SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jaylen Brown’s 3-pointer gave the short-handed Boston Celtics more than just a perfect road trip.
— NBA (@NBA) March 29, 2018
It gave him some much-needed rest.
Brown’s basket with 0.3 seconds left gave the Celtics a 97-94 victory Wednesday night over the Utah Jazz.
“I was just hoping it went in there, man,” Brown said. “I had nothing left for OT, so I’m just happy to win.”
Boston did not allow the Jazz to score over the final 2:25 and ended the game on a 9-0 run. Brown’s winner from straightaway came after Joe Ingles missed a potential go-ahead shot for the Jazz with 16 seconds remaining.
Jayson Tatum added 16 for the Celtics, who won their fifth straight despite their injuries. Terry Rozier chipped in 13 points.
With Kyrie Irving out after knee surgery, and Marcus Morris and Al Horford both sidelined with ankle injuries, the Celtics finished a 4-0 trip to the West in what would have been Gordon Hayward’s return to Utah had he not been injured in the season opener.
This latest winning effort came because of Boston’s ability to get stops late in the game. Utah didn’t score again after Jae Crowder cut to the hoop to put the Jazz up 94-88.
“We played more zone tonight than we have in two years,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Their high pick-and-rolls were giving us fits and we had to play some double bigs there for a while. Guys just kind of battled and hung around.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 22 points for Utah. Ricky Rubio tallied 14 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Crowder added 16 points off the bench. The Jazz (42-33) lost for the third time in five games.
Utah seemed in control in the third quarter, forcing 10 turnovers and turning them into 15 points. It helped the Jazz rip off a 15-0 run, also fueled by three 3-pointers from Rubio and Crowder, to take a 69-58 lead.
“They were pressuring us good,” Stevens said. “They were switching a lot of screens on and off the ball. They were really physical with us and into our bodies. Rubio did a great job at the point of attack defensively.”
Boston charged back in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Rozier and Shane Larkin helped trim the deficit to 85-84. Crowder and Mitchell answered with back-to-back layups to keep the Jazz in front.
Boston kept coming and tied it at 94 on Tatum’s dunk with 1:09 left.
Utah had a 13-0 run in the first quarter to take a 18-12 lead. Rudy Gobert had three baskets, including a go-ahead layup, to fuel the run. Boston missed 14 of 17 shots and scored six total points over the final 8:53 of the quarter.
The teams reversed roles during the second quarter. Boston found its shooting rhythm and shut down Utah on the other end of the court. The Celtics surged in front behind a 16-2 run, taking a 46-34 lead late in the quarter. Brown put Boston in front with back-to-back baskets and capped the spurt with his second 3-pointer of the game. Utah missed six of seven shots during the run.
“We had lack of focus at times,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes, like at the first of the game, we didn’t play well offensively and that puts too much pressure on our defense.”
Celtics: Boston committed 18 total turnovers and gave up 24 points on those turnovers. … Rozier scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. … The Celtics went 12 of 21 from 3-point range, including five makes in the fourth quarter.
Jazz: Utah made five 3-pointers in the third quarter after shooting 4 of 16 from the perimeter in the first half. … Mitchell set up the third quarter Jazz rally by scoring 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half. … The Jazz shot 20 free throws in the second half after attempting one free throw before halftime.
The Celtics completed their 14th double-digit comeback this season, tied for second-most in the NBA. Boston now has made five go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds of a game this season, the most of any NBA team.
Brown credits the team’s character and refusal to give up under adversity.
“I don’t think it’s really nothing new,” Brown said. “We’ve been doing it all year. I know the way we’ve won, with last-second shots and things like that, have been big, but we’ve been doing it all year. It’s nothing new to us.”
Celtics: Host the Raptors on Saturday.
Jazz: Host the Grizzlies on Friday.