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Celtics comfortably beat Jazz, 122-114

Despite the constant double teams, Jayson Tatum finished with his highest field goal percentage of the season.

Utah Jazz v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Jayson Tatum scored 39 points on 12/17 shooting, leading the Celtics to a 122-114 home win over the Utah Jazz. Derrick White scored 17 and Malcolm Brogdon finished with 19 points and 7 assists, and the Celtics got wins on back-to-back nights, despite having trouble on their return flight from Milwaukee. Boston played without Al Horford and Robert Williams while Utah was missing Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson.

The Jazz got within four points towards the end of the 3rd quarter, but the all-bench lineup of Brogdon, White, Grant Williams, Luke Kornet, and Sam Hauser scored 21 points over the last four minutes. They never relinquished their double-digit lead until the final minute of the 4th quarter when the game was out of reach. For Utah, Talen Horton-Tucker scored 28 while Walker Kessler finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

The Jazz led 29-27 after the 1st quarter, as rookies Kessler and Simone Fontecchio combined for 18 points. Tatum, who only scored 15 points during their March 18th matchup, had 11 in the quarter. The Celtics forced six turnovers but again had trouble on the glass, surrendering 5 offensive rebounds.

In the 2nd quarter, Joe Mazzulla subbed out both Sam Hauser and Marcus Smart at the 10:42 mark after each committed turnovers, opting for the curious triple big lineup featuring Grant, Blake Griffin, and Mike Muscala. Grant’s three at the 6:46 mark gave Boston a 39-35 lead, but they weren’t offering resistance on defense, with Kris Dunn and Talen Horton-Tucker getting to the rim at will.

With under four minutes in the half, Brogdon made a great save to Jaylen, who pushed the ball, couldn’t finish the layup, but Derrick White was there for the putback dunk:

The crowd appropriately went wild. A pair of Jaylen free throws gave Boston a seven-point lead, but Utah responded with a 6-0 run. Boston answered that with Smart hitting a three with 30 seconds left, and Tatum finishing a fastbreak layup at the buzzer. The Celtics led 57-51 at half.

Tatum had 17 points and 9 rebounds while White scored 15. Boston had a 13-0 free throw advantage and forced 10 turnovers. Horton-Tucker scored 10 in the 2nd quarter and the Jazz scored 30 paint points in the first half.

The Celtics opened the 3rd quarter with an 8-0 run and Utah responded with their own 8-0 run. Deploying a familiar strategy, the Jazz doubled Tatum every time he touched the ball. Sometimes it resulted in open looks, other times the Celtics looked rushed and disjointed. Ochai Agbaji’s transition dunk at the 4:32 mark cut Boston’s lead to 72-68.

They responded by hitting five 3’s over the next three minutes, three from Brogdon—who was honored before the game as the 2023 Tommy Award winner—and two from Grant. With 45 seconds remaining, Brogdon found a streaking Hauser for a an open transition finish, giving the Celtics their largest lead of the night. Dunn responded with a layup, then a DHO keeper from Grant with five seconds remaining gave Boston a 93-78 lead going into the 4th quarter.

The Jays opened the final frame on the bench, but Tatum checked in at 10:12 and immediately finished a backdoor dunk. Jaylen checked in a few minutes later and got called for an elbow-to-the-face flagrant foul on Horton-Tucker, and the break in action sucked the energy out of the building. But Tatum’s contested step-back 28-footer at the 6:32 mark got the crowd reinvigorated.

Kris Dunn was relentless in attacking the hoop, scoring eight points off drives, but Utah couldn’t cut the deficit to single digits. They had a chance when Blake and Tatum got technical fouls on consecutive possessions, but that was squashed after Tatum hit a corner three to give Boston a 115-101 lead with 3:40 remaining. Despite having a great game, Dunn lost his cool, getting thrown out of the game after picking up two straight technical fouls. The Celtics would end up winning 122-114, improving to 54-24 for the season.

They have three days off before a Tuesday night marquee matchup at Philadelphia.

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