Second-quarter struggles doom Celtics in 107-95 loss to Jazz


BOSTON – It’s going to come. It always seems to come, sooner or later.

The run, whether it’s fueled by the Boston Celtics’ scoring or their defense, is on its way, right?

Not tonight.

After falling behind in the second quarter, the Celtics were never able to muster up enough plays at either end of the floor to regain control of the game, ultimately resulting in a 107-95 loss to the Utah Jazz.

The Celtics (24-7) still have the best record in the East, but they are trending in the wrong direction now with losses in two of their last three games and three of the last five.

Meanwhile, Utah (14-15) snapped a four-game losing streak in addition to nine straight defeats to the Celtics.

Kyrie Irving was brilliant again, scoring 33 points. Al Horford had a nice game for Boston with 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Other than those two, the Celtics didn’t get much production.

Meanwhile, the Jazz were led by Ricky Rubio’s 22 points. And rookie Donovan Mitchell had a near double-double with 17 points and nine assists with six rebounds. Rodney Hood provided a nice spark off the Jazz bench with 17 points.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, whose team was down 101-86 with about two minutes to play, sent four players – Shane Larkin, Abdel Nader, Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeleye – to the scorer’s table, clearing looking ahead to Saturday’s game at Memphis.

Sluggish play through most of the second quarter put Boston in come-from-behind mode, which is a place they are familiar with this season. 

But the third quarter burst they’re used to getting, just wasn’t there early on as Boston’s seven-point deficit to start the third soon ballooned to a 16-point hole that Boston struggled to climb their way out of.

Irving was scoring consistently once again, but he had very little help other than Horford.

And the Celtics’ defense was never able to slow down Utah’s red-hot shooters who finished the game connecting on 48.3 percent of their shots.

The usually reliable Jayson Tatum had a rough game, missing all four of his shots from the field through three quarters of play without a single point to his name. His first points didn’t come until a pair of free throws with 9:32 to play. He had seven points, but missed five of his six shots from the field.

After a relatively close first quarter which ended with the Celtics ahead 26-21, points were few and far between for both teams through most of the second quarter. Nearly eight minutes of the quarter was in the books and the Celtics only had two made field goals in the quarter, the second of which was made by Jaylen Brown which cut Utah’s lead to 35-32 with 4:06 to play.

Boston’s struggles in the quarter continued with the Jazz pulling ahead by as many as 10 points (46-36) after a 3-pointer by Hood.

However, Irving’s 3-pointer moments later would be the final points of the half which ended with Utah on top 46-39.


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