SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward got a cold reception in Utah. He was booed every time he touched the ball, and his Boston Celtics left town with a loss.
Joe Ingles matched his career high with 27 points and added a season-best seven assists to help the Jazz beat the Celtics 123-115 on Friday night in Hayward’s return to Salt Lake City.READ MORE: 'Best Small Cities In America': 8 Massachusetts Communities Make The Top 20 List
Hayward had 13 points and seven assists in 25 minutes during his first game back in Utah since leaving the Jazz as a free agent to sign with the Celtics after the 2016-17 season. He broke his left ankle in Boston’s opener last season.
The star forward spent his first seven NBA seasons with the Jazz after they drafted him ninth overall in 2010. He averaged 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists for Utah, but took the hostile reaction from Jazz fans in stride.
“I kind of expected some of that,” Hayward said. “They were booing me from the get-go, so it’s part of the game.”
Boston trimmed a 20-point deficit to four by the fourth quarter. Playing without injured Kyrie Irving, the Celtics closed within four on multiple occasions late in the period, the final time on a 3-pointer from Marcus Smart that made it 111-107 with 2:19 left.
Rudy Gobert quickly answered with a layup that pushed the lead back to six. Jayson Tatum followed by missing back-to-back layups that could have cut the deficit again, and Boston never got closer.
Jae Crowder finally slammed the door on the comeback with a corner 3 that gave Utah a 117-109 lead with 47.7 seconds left.
Utah coach Quin Snyder thought his team turned a corner by hanging tough down the stretch against the Celtics.
“Our team has not been able to handle successes during games at times,” Snyder said. “We’ve lost focus sometimes when we’ve hit shots. Teams are going to come back on you, but you can’t make it easy on them.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points for Utah. Crowder had 20, and Gobert finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. The Jazz won their second straight home game and second in a row overall.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
“We all have picked it up, picked up our energy defensively, picked our focus up,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been having great practices, but we just didn’t put it into the games. I think over the past couple of games, we’ve done that.”
Terry Rozier scored a season-high 22 points, making his first start in place of Irving, and Jayson Tatum added 21 for the Celtics.
Boston lost for the third time in four games after allowing Utah to shoot a season-high 56 percent from the field.
“As good as we were defensively in the first nine games, I don’t think we’ve been as good the last three,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought we actually did an OK job on the initial drives in isolation, but we didn’t get rebounds in a lot of cases. Our pick-and-roll defense, we just have to really shore it up.”
The Jazz started to pull away when they hit 3-pointers on each of their final four possessions of the second quarter to take a 58-51 halftime lead. Ingles accounted for the first three long-distance baskets, highlighting a 20-point first half for him.
Utah opened the third quarter on a 17-6 run. Mitchell ignited the spurt by draining three free throws and driving for a layup on back-to-back possessions. Derrick Favors kept it going with back-to-back baskets that gave the Jazz a double-digit lead and finished the run off with a pair of free throws that put Utah ahead 75-57 just four minutes into the quarter.
“Defensively, we didn’t pay attention to details,” Rozier said. “We just didn’t have a presence out there, so they played freely.”
The Jazz built their lead to 83-63 on a layup by Crowder before Boston rallied in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics scored on four straight possessions, culminating in Tatum’s layup, to ignite a 15-4 run. Rozier nailed a 3 to cap off the run and cut Utah’s lead to 100-96.MORE NEWS: FDA Expected To Authorize Mixing COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots, Report Says
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)