12/3 Game Preview: Celtics at Jazz
Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz will look to close their four-game homestand on a high note with another win when Jayson Tatum and the rising Boston Celtics come to Salt Lake City on Friday night.
Mitchell's 30 points helped carry the Jazz to a 129-107 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. It was Utah's second straight win and sixth in eight games coming off a stretch of four losses in five games.
"We're getting better," Mitchell said. "I think (Monday) was pretty good. I've just got to continue to do it consistently. That's really it, just making the game easier on myself. The ball's starting to go in on some of the shots that I've been missing."
Jordan Clarkson chipped in 22 points off the bench and Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 16 rebounds for Utah, which shot 52.8 percent (47-of-89) from the floor and 41.3 percent (19-of-46) from 3-point range while committing just five turnovers.
Perhaps most impressively, the Jazz limited Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. The teams were in a tight game for much of the first half before Utah created separation in the second half and pulled away late.
Utah's Royce O'Neal did not play against Portland after being listed as questionable with a right foot/ankle injury. Udoka Azubuike was ruled out before the game due to an ankle injury.
Boston is starting to put things together on both ends of the court, pulling out victories in a number of ways while winning five of its past seven games.
On Wednesday, the Celtics outlasted the 76ers 88-87 in a defensive struggle. Jayson Tatum had 26 points and a career-high 16 rebounds as Boston sealed a low-scoring win on Robert Williams III's block of a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
For Boston, Dennis Schroder had 13 points off the bench, Williams contributed 10 points and three blocks and Al Horford amassed 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. The Celtics won despite shooting 41.8 percent (33-of-79) from the field.
However, the Celtics' defense kept 76ers star Joel Embiid to 13 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Boston opened a 12-point lead in the first quarter before Philadelphia regrouped in a back-and-forth game that featured 16 lead changes.
"Not really going to apologize for an ugly win. It happens. Offense wasn't clicking at all times, but guys got it going late," Boston coach Ime Udoka said. "As we've said all year, we're going to rely on our defense."
Boston's Jaylen Brown had just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting as he works his way back from a right hamstring strain. Brown was listed as questionable before the game as the team continues to cautiously manage his return.
Friday will mark the first game in a five-game western road swing for Boston, which also will make stops in Portland, Los Angeles to play both the Lakers and Clippers, and finally Phoenix.