Paul Pierce had 23 points hitting some crucial free throws down the stretch, Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa added 16 points apiece off the bench to help the Boston Celtics defeat the Utah Jazz 98-93 on Wednesday night for their third straight victory.
The Celtics shot great from the field tonight, making 50 percent of their attempts from the field while holding the Jazz to 40.2 percent. Jeff Green threw down a thunderous dunk on Al Jefferson which energized the home crowd and is an early contender for one of the better in-game dunks in this young season. However, the Jazz were able to keep the game close throughout, aided by their 48-33 advantage on the boards. The Jazz led 46-44 at half.
Paul Millsap had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Jazz in their losing effort. The exhausted Jazz were coming off a 140-133 triple overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night where key players Millsap, Al Jefferson, Mo Williams and Derrick Favors each logged at least 44 minutes of playing time.
Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors each added 14 points and Al Jefferson scored 13 while grabbing 14 rebounds for the Jazz. Williams missed a potential game-tying three pointer with the Jazz down 96-93 with seven seconds left and Kevin Garnett clinched the victory for the Celtics, hitting two free throws to ice the game. Garnett added 11 points and 8 rebounds in the winning effort.
Of concern for the Celtics is Rajon Rondo injuring his right ankle during the third quarter. He did not return to the game and he finished the contest with 6 points and 10 assists. Injury not withstanding, Rondo was not his usual sharp self tonight shooting 3-9 from the field.
With the win tonight Boston improves to 5-3 overall. The Celtics will be traveling south on I-95 for their game tomorrow against the Brooklyn Nets while the Jazz fall to 4-5 overall and 1-5 on the road. They head to Philadelphia on Friday for a game against the Sixers.