Celtics Rock The Jazz
BOSTON (AP) — Kevin Garnett scored 21 points, Paul Pierce added 20 and Rajon Rondo had 12 assists on Friday night to lead the Boston Celtics to their fifth straight win, a 110-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Deron Williams had a season-low five points for the Jazz, who have lost three in a row. Earl Watson scored 12 for Utah, while Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward and Andrei Kirilenko had 11 apiece.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis scored 15 and Semih Erden had a career-high 14 points for Boston, which scored the last 11 points of the first half and never led by fewer than 17 in the second.
Williams made just one basket — his fewest in almost 12 months — to end a string of 48 straight regular-season games of double-digit scoring.
He took just four shots and played a season-low 23 minutes, picking up his second foul with 8 minutes left in the first quarter and his third with seven minutes left in the half. Utah’s leading scorer with 22.1 points per game, he didn’t score at all until 8:28 remained in the third quarter.
The three-game losing streak, following losses at Washington and New Jersey, is the longest of the season for the Jazz. The losses to the Wizards and Nets, two of the worst teams in the NBA, were relatively close; Friday’s game against the Celtics never really was.
Boston scored seven of the first nine points and led by 16 later in the first quarter. After allowing Utah to score nine straight points to close the gap to seven, the Celtics scored the last 11 of the half and took a 59-41 lead.
Pierce, Garnett, Ray Allen and Davis were already in double figures at halftime, when Rondo had 10 assists; Boston shot 59 percent in the first half to Utah’s 38 percent.
Utah briefly got within 17 points in the third quarter and 19 in the fourth.
The biggest problem for Boston was the loss of Shaquille O’Neal in the first quarter to a leg injury. O’Neal went into the courtside seats after a loose ball — he didn’t get it, but he gave a fan a hug — and played just six minutes total, scoring one basket.
The 38-year-old former NBA MVP missed a week in November and another in December with leg injuries. The Celtics are already short on big men, with Kendrick Perkins not yet ready to come back from the torn ligaments from the NBA finals, and Jermaine O’Neal out another month with his injured left knee.