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Celtics hang tight but falter late in a 117-109 loss to the Jazz

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Boston hung tight against the league’s best but ultimately fell to Utah.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics entered Tuesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz coming off a commendable blowout victory in Houston. Those good vibes wound up short-lived as the Celtics fell to the team with the league’s top record, 117-109.

Boston took an early double-digit lead with a strong defensive effort that wound up forcing six turnovers in the first quarter. Jaylen Brown led the way with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. But the Jazz battled back with a late run of their own to finish the quarter down only two.

After both teams barely cracked the 20-point mark in the opening frame, the two sides each exceeded 30 in the second, with Utah holding a 34-31 edge to enter halftime up a single point. Leading the way was Jordan Clarkson, who put in 14 points with four triples. Jayson Tatum and Daniel Theis each scored nine.

Kemba Walker went to the locker room at around the halfway point of the quarter rubbing the back of his head and neck. Thankfully, he returned several minutes later and finished the final 2:47 of the second quarter.

The back and forth affair continued in the third quarter. Utah built a seven-point lead before the Celtics fought back to enter the final frame up by two despite shooting just 34 percent from the field in the third (10-of-29). Tatum more than doubled his first-half point total by pouring in 12 third-quarter points.

The early stages of the fourth quarter gave off the appearance of Boston’s late-game woes rearing their head once again as the Jazz used a double-digit run to build a sizeable lead. The Celtics fought back but ultimately couldn’t hit the shots they needed to overcome the deficit.

Tatum and Brown scored 29 and 28, respectively, while both shooting north of 50 percent from the field. Theis finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.

Utah got a combined 41 points from Clarkson and Donovan Mitchell to lead the way while they finished 19-of-43 from (44.3 percent) beyond the arc as a team.

The Celtics won’t have much time to sulk as they head to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers tomorrow night.