The Boston Celtics kicked off their Western Conference road trip with one of their most complete performances of the 2021-22 NBA season, but it wasn’t quite enough to topple the championship-hopeful Utah Jazz. The Jazz connected on a whopping 27 three-pointers — easily breaking the record for threes made against the Celtics — and walked away victorious from a hard-fought Friday night contest, 137-130.
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 37 points, supported by a chipper performance from Al Horford (21 points, 9 assists) and 26 points from Dennis Schröder. But Utah’s tirade from the perimeter could not be denied. Donovan Mitchell piled on 34 points, Mike Conley connected on all seven of his threes and the Jazz scorched the nets to the tune of 52% shooting from deep.
The vaunted Utah offense quickly asserted control of the proceedings after Rudy Gobert won the opening tip. Conley connected on a trio of three-pointers in the early minutes of the game, leading to an early 14-2 lead for Utah and prompting an early timeout from Ime Udoka. That quick start from three would prove to be a trend, as the Jazz connected on 9-of-13 threes in the quarter. The Celtics found exploited some sloppy execution from the Jazz to pick up 11 early points off turnovers, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace, and they entered the second quarter trailing 38-25.
With just over eight minutes to play in the second quarter, Romeo Langford went down awkwardly after appearing to roll his ankle running the fast break. Utah’s Joe Ingles was whistled for a foul on the play, which was overturned after a challenge from Quinn Snyder. Langford remained on the court after play resumed and showed no visible signs of discomfort, but after halftime, the Celtics announced that he was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a right ankle sprain.
The Celtics found some momentum in the wake of the challenge call, as a Grant Williams three-pointer resumed what became a 12-0 run across four scoreless minutes from the suddenly absent Jazz offense to pull within three points. After a timeout from Snyder, the Jazz managed to cut off the run with a three-pointer from Royce O’Neal, but the momentum remained on Boston’s side. Led by some timely shot-making from Horford (19 first half points), they outscored the Jazz by 10 in the second quarter and entered the half trailing 59-56.
The Celtics continued to gain ground on Utah as the second half began, with some hot shooting leading to them tying the Jazz for the first time of the evening, 66-66, and then moments later claiming their first lead at 73-71. From there, the third quarter became a bona fide offensive slugfest. The Celtics thrived attacking the basket, while the Jazz repeatedly answered with continuously strong three-point shooting. The two teams juggled the lead for the remaining eight minutes of the third quarter, remarkably keeping the difference within a single possession the entire time. The two teams matched each other with 41 points apiece in the third, and Boston trailed Utah 100-97 heading into the final quarter.
Utah managed to crack the two-possession-lead barrier in the early minutes of the fourth, but a short scoring outburst from Josh Richardson quickly put the Celtics back ahead. However, the Jazz continued to scorch the nets from behind the arc, as a pair of Ingles threes again flipped the deck on Boston. The Celtics battled back once again, and a foul on Robert Williams put Utah in the bonus and led Boston to a four-point edge with just under five minutes to play.
Utah evened the odds with a pair of alley-oop dunks from Gobert, before pulling ahead to a 124-120 lead on a personal 5-0 run from Mitchell with just over two minutes to play. Ultimately, the Jazz ended the game the same way they started it: with Mike Conley connecting from behind the arc. The 34-year-old point guard fended off Boston’s last efforts with a pair of back-breaking three-pointers in the closing minutes of the game, and the Jazz squeaked out a win.
Next up, the Celtics’ western foray continues, as they travel up to the Pacific Northwest for a road battle against the Portland Trail Blazers, Saturday night at 10 PM on NBC Sports Boston.
For more postgame coverage of tonight’s barn-burner in Utah, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown.