Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 107, Jazz 102
Celtics 107, Jazz 102
The Boston Celtics secured a 3-1 record on their four-game West Coast road trip with a gritty win Monday night over the Utah Jazz, and the C’s needed some huge shots down the stretch to grab that victory.
Although Boston led for nearly the entire contest, the Utah Jazz wouldn’t fade away and continued to push the C’s until the final seconds of the game. Paul Millsap finished off a conventional three-point play with 42.3 seconds left to cut Boston’s five-point advantage back down to two and put the onus on the Celtics’ offense to come up huge.
It did exactly that.
Boston got the ball into the hands of its hottest shooter and he delivered one of the most unfair jumpers you’ll see in the NBA this season. With his defender draped all over him like a heavy winter jacket, Allen rose up on the right wing as his feet straddled the 3-point line and fired up a shot that seemed uncharacteristically forced. He certainly didn’t see it that way.
Allen essentially had no air space between he and his defender but he still managed to drain the critical jumper to put Boston back on top by four, at 103-99, with 53.4 seconds remaining in the game.
As we learned all night, however, this Jazz team just wouldn’t go away. It answered right back with an Al Jefferson shot in the paint as he was fouled by Allen. The ensuing free throw would have cut the lead down to one, but he clanked it and Kevin Garnett reeled in his 14th board of the game.
The Celtics called timeout with 41.9 seconds remaining with the knowledge that one more bucket might seal the deal. The shot attempt they got on the next possession wasn’t exactly what they would have preferred, but it worked out perfectly.
Rajon Rondo took a pass just outside the left elbow and threw a perfect shot fake to send Devin Harris flying by him. Rondo then put the ball on the floor for one dribble and stepped into a free-flowing jumper from the free-throw line and it was a no-doubter. His sweet shot from the stripe swished through the hoop with 24.1 seconds left to again make it a two-possession game, and from that point on it was simply a free throw contest… a contest the Celtics won.
Key Box Score Line
Kevin Garnett has publicly stated that he is going to put more of the team’s load on his back during the second half of the season, and he continues to deliver with the numbers the Celtics love to see out of him. Garnett put together another stellar performance tonight in Utah with 16 points and 14 boards. That rebounding total was his highest since Feb. 7, and outside of that contest in Charlotte, KG hadn’t reached that plateau since way back on Dec. 16.
In addition to the solid scoring and big rebounding, Garnett also logged three assists, a game-high three steals and one block. His plus/minus rating of plus-14 was the highest of any Celtic who played tonight.
There’s no doubt that Garnett is the inspirational leader of this team, but he understands that his teammates need a lot more out of him than that. He is turning up the aggression, and it’s paying off with big time numbers and more wins for the C’s. He has taken at least 11 shots in each of his last eight contests and he attempted 13 tonight. Seven of those shots dropped through the net, paving the way to his solid scoring night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce scored 21 points despite making only four field goals. He shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line.
- The Celtics shot 7-of-15 from downtown, compared to a 1-of-7 performance by Utah.
- Al Jefferson had a monster game with 28 points and 19 rebounds.
- Boston outrebounded Utah by one, as the final tally was 42-41.
- Ray Allen led the Celtics with 25 points that included five 3-pointers in eight tries.
- Utah attempted a whopping 37 free throws, making 31, while Boston attempted 25.
- All five of Boston's starters scored in double-figures.
- Kevin Garnett notched a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
- Rajon Rondo also added to his double-double total with 18 points and 11 assists.
- Rondo was the only player in the game to dish out more than five assists.
- Utah grabbed five steals, with five separate players claiming one apiece.
- Each team had four starters attempt at least 10 field goals.
- Outside of Jefferson, no Jazz player grabbed more than four rebounds.
- Each team blocked three shots and committed 13 turnovers.
- The two benches combined to score only 34 points (18 by Utah's and 16 by Boston's).
- Three of Utah's starters made six free throws apiece.
Quote of the Night
Ray Allen on his satisfaction of the taem's road trip: "Very, very satisfied. A lot of things have taken place over the last few weeks for us, still being away from home since the All-Star break. There’s always opportunity for when complacency settles in for the last game of the road trip and I think right now we’re satisfied that we ran through to the finish line and finished this trip off.”