Rapid Reaction: Celtics 97, Jazz 87
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Utah Jazz 97-87 on Wednesday night at TD Garden:
The nitty gritty
Slow out of the gates, the Celtics spotted the Jazz a 13-point lead, but made it a one-possession game before the end of the first quarter and used a dominating second-quarter effort to lead by 16 at halftime. Boston found a much-needed bench spark from the trio of Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Gerald Wallace (who was shuffled to the second unit Wednesday with Jordan Crawford moving to a starter's role). The Celtics pushed their lead as high as 25 and needed most of it to fend off the winless Jazz in the fourth frame. It was the first NBA victory for coach Brad Stevens. Gordon Hayward, Stevens' sidekick at Butler, scored a game-high 28 points to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and a steal in 40 minutes. Bass finished with a team-high 20 points, Wallace had nine points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench and Olynyk added 14 points and eight rebounds over 29:25.
The Celtics opened the second half on a 13-4 burst that culminated with a Green 3-pointer for a 63-38 lead with 20 minutes to play in the game. The Celtics' fumbling away another 20-plus point lead seemed improbable, but Boston needed that little burst. As Boston snoozed for a stretch at the start of the fourth quarter, the Jazz rallied within six with 4:29 to go. Bass came up with a couple big shots (and a block on Hayward) to keep Utah at arm's length at the finish line.
Sellout streak ends
So it went out with a whimper compared to the hoopla of when the Red Sox's "sellout" streak ended. But with an attendance of 17,130, the Celtics' sellout streak ended at 289 games. Even still, Boston had a nice turnout (capacity is 18,624) for a Wednesday night battle of winless teams.
Stevens loosened up his rotation, finding floor time for both Phil Pressey (2 points, 3 assists over 16:54) and Kris Humphries (2 points over 5:42). Those minutes came at the expense of Vitor Faverani, who had a painful start to the game (0 points, 3 rebounds, minus-8 in plus/minus over 6:04) and never saw the floor again. ... Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks logged DNPs.
What it means
Well, the Celtics looked like they might kick another one away during a lethargic fourth quarter, but they recovered in time to taste victory for the first time in the 2013-14 season. The Celtics get a rare practice day Thursday before embarking on a Floridian back-to-back (Friday in Orlando, Saturday in Miami) to close out a stretch of five games in seven days in five cities.
Play Podcast Men's Journal's Paul Solotaroff weighs in on the characterization of Richard Sherman, the relationship between Sherman and Patrick Peterson and expectations for Darrelle Revis.
Play Podcast Adnan Virk talks to Tim Kurkjian about dominant pitching performances and the search for the next commissioner. Plus, Arash Madani on if the Blue Jays can make the playoffs.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell weighs in on whether the Browns should start Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel, the Jets' QB situation, Ryan Mallett's abilities and Robert Griffin III's development.