Saturday, April 1, 2023

Celtics 122, Jazz 114: Jayson Tatum scores 39 points to avenge loss against Utah

The Celtics, on a second night of a back-to-back, beat the Utah Jazz 122-114 Friday at TD Garden for their consecutive win.

Jayson Tatum continued his hot shooting to finish with 39 points on 12-of-17 from the field and 5-of-8 from deep to go along with 11 rebounds.

The All-Star was coming off a 40-point performance in the C's 140-99 beatdown of the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday on the road. Tatum became the second in franchise history to have the most 40-point games with 22 -- passing Paul Pierce at 21 and trailing none other than Larry Bird, who has the record with 47 games of scoring 40 points.

Meanwhile, the Celtics didn't arrive back in Boston until six hours prior to game time due to issues with their return flight from Milwaukee.
"We kind of looked at it as a challenge," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "It was fun figuring it out regardless of how the last 24 hours was. It was rewarding. ... It kind of brought us closer together."
Malcolm Brogdon had 19 points, seven assists off the bench, while Derrick White added 17 points and Marcus Smart chipped in 14 points for the Celtics, who improved to 54-24 and are 1.5 games behind the Bucks (55-22) for the No. 1 seed with four left to play.

Blake Griffin recorded six points, 12 rebounds and five assists as a starter for Boston -- who was also without Al Horford (lower back stiffness) and Robert Williams (left knee injury management).

Talen Horton-Tucker had a team-high 28 points, plus eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the short-handed Jazz without All-Star Lauri Markkanen (bruised left hand), Jordan Clarkson (sprained finger) and Collin Sexton (sprained left hamstring).

Walker Kessler notched a double-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and Kris Dunn netted 16 points off the bench for Utah, who fell to 36-41 on the season.

The Celtics trailed 29-27 after the first 12 minutes, before they outscored the Jazz 66-49 in the next two quarters and took a comfortable 93-78 advantage into the final frame.

With 4:42 left to play Griffin was whistled for a technical foul and Tatum was hit with one as well 10 seconds apart. Griffin and Dunn had a little scuffle, leading to a technical foul being called on Dunn a minute later, which led to the Jazz guard having some words with the officials before a second technical foul was issued and an ejection.

After the four technical free throws were made by both teams, the Celtics led 117-101 with 3:31 remaining. Despite Utah going to the free line 12 out of 14 times in the fourth period alone and using a 13-5 run to close the game, Boston was able to hold on and avenge a 118-117 upset loss from earlier in the month.
"I trusted our guys," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. "I knew we were going to be really competitive. I knew we were going to put ourselves in position to win the game. I could just sense it from our guys."
The Celtics are off until Tuesday when they travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers (51-26). TNT will have the tip-off at 8:00 ET.

Game Notes:

Boston was 43.8% from the field, including 17-of-51 (33.3%) from behind the arc, while the Jazz were 47.9% from the floor and 9-of-29 (31%) from long distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 52-42 and outscored in the paint 68-46. The C's dished out 27 assists (12 turnovers) on 42 baskets to the Jazz's 23 dimes (18 turnovers) on 46 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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