Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz were zeroed in on the franchise’s first win in Boston since 2008, but they came up short in the waning minutes.
G-Time finished the game with 16 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds in the tough 100-95 loss to the Boston Celtics. Utah trounced the Celtics 111-93 in Salt Lake City and in front of a national TV audience on ESPN just 10 days prior—and Boston was determined not to suffer the same fate on its home floor. The C’s shot 52.4 percent in the final period to send the Jazz out of the TD Garden with a defeat.
“We just couldn’t get stops down the stretch. That’s basically what it came down to for us,” Gordon said. “I thought we played well enough to win. We just kind of fell apart at the end. We couldn’t stop them. It made it really difficult.”
The game went back and forth for the duration of the fourth quarter, and it was new Jazzman and former Butler Bulldog Shelvin Mack who drained a three with 49.5 seconds to play to give the Jazz a 95-93 lead. On the ensuing possession, Jae Crowder responded with a go-ahead three-pointer to put his team up by one.
With 30.4 seconds left in regulation, G20 had the ball in his hands and made a nice move to get separation from Avery Bradley, but the Celtics guard read Hayward perfectly and blocked his jumper attempt. Bradley was quickly fouled and made his first attempt from the line but his second was off the mark.
“He timed it really well,” Hayward explained of the 6-foot-2 Bradley, who is considered one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. “It was a good play.”
A rebound would have given Utah a chance at a final possession down by only two, but Rudy Gobert, who finished with 12 points and 12 boards, was beaten to the ball by Amir Johnson. Bradley went on to nail his ensuing free throws to essentially seal the game.
After the game-deciding play, head coach Quin Snyder lamented the area of his team’s play that they need to improve.
“The free-throw rebound is something we’ve got to clean up. It hurt us against Portland as well,” Snyder said. “They’re aggressive and sometimes they are not going to bounce to you.”
The Jazz got off to a good start in the first quarter and went on an early 9-2 run fueled by a nice three from G-Time. A few possessions later, Hayward put the Jazz up 11-9 on a driving layup for his second bucket of the evening and Utah went on to take a 29-23 lead after one.
The game got closer late in the second quarter when Jared Sullinger’s jump shot cut the Jazz lead to two, but Gordon responded with a fadeaway jumper to give the Jazz a 42-38 advantage with 2:09 left in the half. At one point, the Jazz led by 13 in the second quarter, and they continued to battle with the Celtics throughout the second half.
Hayward’s floater put the Jazz up 50-45 early in the third quarter, and after Isaiah Thomas answered with a floating jumper of his own, G-Time made a nice feed to Derrick Favors, who was cutting to the rim for the slam to give the Jazz a 52-47 edge. At the end of the back-and-forth third quarter, Hayward and Co. entered the final frame up by one.
The C’s outscored the Jazz 28-22 in the fourth in a game that was decided down the stretch. The Jazz had another opportunity to slip back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference after the Houston Rockets fell last night on the road as well, but with the loss they still sit a half-game back.
Mack and Trey Lyles earned an extended workload with Trevor Booker’s absence due to a personal matter, and they stepped up to the occasion. They led Utah in scoring with 18 points apiece, and the rookie Lyles also came down with 10 boards to round out his first career double-double.
For the first time since they were together at Butler University, Gordon, Mack and Boston head coach Brad Stevens were all together in competition. Always a supporter of No. 20 and the rest of his former Bulldogs, Stevens was proud to see Mack and Hayward together in an NBA starting lineup.
“I saw those guys grow up. They made my day when they committed to Butler — at different times but in the same class,” Stevens said in his pregame comments. “Nobody could be more proud of those two than me, especially watching them now play together. Starting together is pretty cool.”
Hayward and the Jazz (28-31) will have another tough road test ahead on them when the travel north of the border on Thursday to take on the Toronto Raptors (39-19).
“I think these last two (losses) have been pretty deflating for us,” Gordon said. “We got to find a way to pick ourselves up. We got three more tough games on this trip. Tonight was one where we felt like we were in control early, but just couldn’t get stops. We’ve got to learn from it and find a way to pick ourselves up.”
Earlier this season the Jazz declawed the Raptors at home by a final score of 93-89 and they will look to repeat the same success this time around on the road. Toronto had rattled off four consecutive wins before losing to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, however they will be well-rested with no games scheduled until the Jazz come to town.
Thursday’s contest is slated to tipoff at 5:30 p.m. MST from Air Canada Centre and will be aired on ROOT.
- Celtics’ home streak reaches 11 with win over Jazz (AP, Feb. 29, 2016)
- Game Book: Jazz at Celtics (NBA, Feb. 29, 2016)
- Utah Jazz suffer another ‘deflating’ loss, failing at Boston (Deseret News, Feb. 29, 2016)
- Stevens ‘proud’ of Butler’s NBA reunion (Deseret News, Feb. 29, 2016)
- Utah Jazz drop one against Boston Celtics in road loss (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 29, 2016)
- Rookie Lyles steps up in Booker’s absence (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 29, 2016)