Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celtics 99 - Jazz 90: Prince Leads the C's Past Utah

Photo: Getty Images

Salt Lake City - While the northeast was getting slammed with a huge snow storm, the Celtics were in Utah looking to get back on track and had to look to their bench to hold on to a win at the Energy Solutions Arena. After losing a 24-point lead, it was Tayshaun Prince who led the charge against a resilient Jazz team. In the end Boston walked out with a 99-90 victory and a 3-2 record on their western road trip.

Prince, who was acquired for Jeff Green on January 12, and has been rumored to be negotiating a buyout for the last two weeks, had his best game as a Celtic on Monday night. Not only did he have a team high 19 points, but he also dished out 5 assists in 30 minutes off the bench. At 34-years-old, the widely veteran has been through it all in this league, and he's been a great addition so far.

"Tayshaun always knows what's going on," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "He's lived it all. A team has got you down by 20 in a quarter and it doesn't look like his pulse has moved. You go up by 20 and it doesn't look like his pulse has moved. He's just playing and he plays the right way. He made us better today."

Tyler Zeller finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Jared Sullinger added 12 and 9 rebounds. Avery Bradley also chipped in with 12 points as the Celtics are 16-27 on the season.

Gordon Hayward led all scorers with 26 points on 7-of-17 shooting (including going 4-of-5 from 3). Enes Kanter finished with 20 points and six rebounds while Trey Burke added 18 points off the bench for the Jazz.

Both teams didn't start off shooting so well as they finished with a 17-17 tie after the first 12 minutes. The Celtics got it together in the second quarter shooting 60-percent from the field and outscoring the Jazz (28.4 percent) 38-14. It seemed like the C's were going to run away with an easy win after leading 55-31 at halftime.

The third quarter painted a different picture as a 24-point Boston lead was cut to four after a Utah 18-0 run with 3:48 remaining in the quarter. The Celtics finished the period without losing their lead completely, still up 71-66 despite being outscored by the Jazz 35-16.

The Celtics began the fourth with an 8-0 run on baskets from Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller. The Jazz never got closer than within five the rest of the game, as key defensive stops and Utah missing free-throws played a key role for the C's to hang on to the win after blowing a huge lead.

Boston's bench outscored the starters 53-46 which was led by Prince's 19 (the most he has scored in five games with the C's). He talked about how his night got started after scoring 10 points in the second quarter alone.

"I just had shots fall for me tonight and got in a good rhythm," Prince said. "Everybody knows I bring some intangibles and defense. I can slow things downs and help my teammates out, but tonight shots were falling and that made it even better."

Stevens knows the value of losing a big a lead but fighting to secure a win. Despite a great second quarter and a horrible third, the Celtics shot 47.3-percent for the night (42.1% from 3 and 91.3% from the free throw line). They are now 4-4 on second games of back-to-backs and 3-5 on the road against western conference teams.

The C's will travel to Minnesota to take on the Wolves on Wednesday night. They look to finish their six-game western road trip on a high note, as tip-off is 8.

Game Notes:

Stevens stayed with a 10-man rotation on Monday night, with Phil Pressey and James Young both receiving healthy coach's decision DNP's. Shavlik Randolph was inactive last night because of a strained left hamstring and Kelly Olynyk is still out with a right ankle sprain.

Joel Pavón
Follow us on Twitter: @CausewayStreet

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