BOSTON (ABC4 Sports) – Playing against the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz never really had a chance against the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.
The Celtics, winners of 21 of its last 24 games, made its first ten shots of the game, storming out to a 30-point lead in the second quarter, and cruised past the Jazz, 126-97.
Halfway through a brutal six-game road trip, the Jazz are now tied with Dallas for the fourth seed in the Western Conference with nine games remaining.
“They just kicked our ass,” said Donovan Mitchell. “They took us out of stuff, and we didn’t get to run in transition.”
“We weren’t committed tonight to playing the way that we need to play on both ends of the floor,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “It’s good for us to face an opponent that is elite defensively because I think it shows us how committed we have to be.”
Jayson Tatum scored 11 of his 26 points during Boston’s nearly perfect first quarter in which the Celtics made 79 percent of its shots.
Jaylen Brown also added 26 points and Marcus Smart finished with a career-high 13 assists as Boston (46-28) recorded its fifth straight victory to improve its chances for one of the Eastern Conference’s top four seeds.
Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points for the Jazz, but Utah (45-28) lost consecutive games for the first time since the end of January, a span of 21 games. Rudy Gobert added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think deep inside we all know the things that we need to do if we want to be a championship team,” Gobert said. “It starts with all of us being willing to sacrifice for each other.”
The Jazz tried their best to keep pace all night, but simply couldn’t get enough shots to fall. They entered the night as the NBA’s sixth-best scoring offense (113.7 points per game), but were held under 100 points for the first time in 12 games.
Utah never got closer than 18 in the second half.
The Jazz particularly struggled from the outside, going 8 of 36 from the 3-point line. Utah also had only 13 assists on 35 made baskets.
Gobert said the Jazz’s issues over the past two losses are becoming repetitive.
“It’s the same things that happen when we stop playing the way we’re supposed to play and we want to play, and we want to be a championship team,” Gobert said. “It’s defense and offensively it’s sharing the ball.”
Boston hit its first 10 shots of the game, including six 3-pointers, on the way to jumping out to a 28-12 lead. Its first miss didn’t come until the 4:05 mark of the opening quarter when a layup by Brown rolled off the rim.
It was one of the few miscues for the Celtics, who ended the period with a 39-24 lead. They went 15 of 19 from the field, 7 of 9 from beyond the arc and held a 12-2 rebounding edge.
The lead grew as high as 30 in the second quarter and Boston took a 68-45 advantage into halftime. Smart ended the half with 10 assists in just 15 minutes of action.
Boston collectively had a season-high 37 assists on the night, while also shooting a season-best 59% from the floor.
Bojan Bogdanovic missed his sixth straight game for the Jazz with a strained calf.
Utah next plays at Charlotte on Friday at 5:00 p.m.