Boston Celtics

Celtics-Jazz takeaways: Tatum, C's end road trip on a high note

Boston has won three straight after dropping the first two games of the trip.

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Three Key Storylines

  • Derrick White snaps out of 3-point slump
  • Jayson Tatum ends road trip on a high note
  • C's frontcourt in good hands with Luke Kornet

The Boston Celtics finished their five-game road trip with an entertaining victory in Utah.

After starting the trip with two consecutive losses, the C's rattled off three straight road wins over the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, and finally the Jazz on Tuesday. Despite being short-handed on the second night of their back-to-back, they erupted for 44 first-quarter points to tie a season-high and a whopping 72 points in the first half. It was their 15th 70-point first half of the season, a franchise record.

The Celtics watched their 17-point lead dwindle to two in the third quarter, but they dominated the fourth to run away with a 123-107 win. They improved to a league-best 9-2 on the second night of back-to-backs and did so without Jaylen Brown (sacroiliac strain), Al Horford (left big toe sprain), and Kristaps Porzingis (right hamstring strain).

Jayson Tatum and Derrick White carried the load offensively with 38 and 24 points, respectively. Jrue Holiday chipped in 16 points and a game-high eight assists in his return to the Celtics lineup.

Keyonte George paced the Jazz in scoring with 26 points while Collin Sexton added 20.

The Celtics (51-14) will return home to take on the Phoenix Suns (37-27) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Tuesday's game.

Derrick White snaps out of 3-point slump

White struggled to find his 3-point shot throughout the road trip. He entered Tuesday an uncharacteristic 1-for-14 from beyond the arc over his last four games.

The C's guard ended that slump emphatically in Utah, drilling his first four 3-pointers of the night and finishing a scorching 7-of-11 from deep. His seven made 3s tie his season-high and come just one short of his career-high.

White scored 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting and, per usual, was a difference-maker on the defensive end. He tallied three blocks and a steal while bringing down six rebounds. His 77 blocks this season are a new career-high.

Jayson Tatum ends road trip on a high note

Tatum notched at least 26 points in all but one game during the Celtics' trip, but it was far from his most efficient shooting stretch. The five-time All-Star failed to shoot more than 40 percent from the floor in the first four games. The one game he'd really like to have back is his 15-point performance in the loss to Denver.

On Tuesday though, Tatum looked more like his MVP-caliber self. He came out firing with 15 first-quarter points to set the tone for the victory. When the Jazz cut the Celtics' 17-point lead to two in the third quarter, Tatum came through with two badly needed buckets to shift the momentum back in Boston's favor.

Tatum ended up with a game-high 38 points -- his highest scoring total since Feb. 13 -- on 13-of-25 shooting (4-10 3PT). The 26-year-old added six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block to remind the NBA world he still belongs in the MVP conversation.

C's frontcourt in good hands with Luke Kornet

With Porzingis out, Kornet has stepped up and produced strong minutes for the C's. He played a significant role in the team's win over Phoenix and made his presence felt again in the victory over Portland.

On Tuesday, Kornet was the Celtics' starting center with Porzingis and Horford both absent. Again, he took advantage of his opportunity.

Kornet didn't waste any time as he notched eight points and six boards in the first half. He stayed productive for the rest of the game, finishing with 12 points, nine boards (four offensive), and six assists to tie his career-high. He also set a career-high for offensive rebounds in a season with 87.

As great as Kornet has been, Boston will hope it won't have to lean on him as heavily going forward and that Porzingis will return to the lineup Thursday at TD Garden. If the Latvian big man remains sidelined, Kornet has at least proven capable of stepping up in his absence.

It's also worth noting that trade deadline addition Xavier Tillman was up for the task on Tuesday night. The former Memphis Grizzlies forward logged seven points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.

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