Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
The Roundup—Mitchell's 37 not enough as Jazz fall to Celtics
The Utah Jazz modified their lineup ahead of Wednesday night's nationally televised matchup with the Boston Celtics, moving Joe Ingles to the bench in favor of Royce O'Neale.
While the lineup changed, however, the result did not as the Jazz fell 114-103 to the visiting Celtics.
Utah (36-22) has now lost four straight games, all at home.
This time, though, there wasn't an accompanying sense of despair pervading Vivint Smart Home Arena as Utah overcame a brutal start to keep the game competitive throughout. The Jazz started the game shooting only 3-for-17 from the field, including 0-for-8 from three, passing up open shots and looking disjointed and tentative as they dug themselves a 19-8 hole over the first 10 minutes.
The Jazz came roaring back behind Donovan Mitchell, who scored eight points during a 17-3 run that resulted in a 43-39 Utah lead midway through the second period. A three-point play by Royce O'Neale, plus a nifty bucket in the lane by Jordan Clarkson and a 3-pointer by Mike Conley also helped the Jazz get back on track.
"It's not the result we wanted, obviously, but I thought we gave a really pure, good effort, and you could feel that watching the game," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought we did a good job playing through it when we weren't making shots. Our defensive effort and our energy stayed at a good level. I felt differently about tonight's game compared to the games we've played the last couple days. It's not a moral victory in that sense at all, but our team is going to keep working and finding it and keep getting better from where we were two nights ago."
Boston held a narrow lead in the third period before the Jazz tied it back up with back-to-back threes by Clarkson and Georges Niang, but the Celtics pulled away for good early in the fourth period. Two buckets by former Jazz center Enes Kanter bookended three straight 3-pointers by Marcus Smart, and within a span of five minutes, Boston had turned a tie game into a 13-point lead.
"We've got to make a few more shots," Snyder said. "Boston hit some tough shots, and we had a couple of breakdowns that cost us during that stretch, particularly when Smart hit those threes. But I saw a team that was committed to defending and playing together."
Mitchell scored a game-high 37 points in the loss, while Conley (15 points) and O'Neale (14 points, three steals) were the only other Utah players to score in double figures.
Ingles (two points on 1-for-3 shooting) and Bojan Bogdanović (three points on 1-for-8 shooting, including 0-for-4 from three) continued to struggle for the Jazz.
"We've got some guys we believe in who are going to find it," Snyder said. "That's all of us, as much as anything. That's why it's a team game. The message is really that simple—everybody just keep playing and competing. Play hard and play together and play defense."
Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 33 points on 13-for-20 shooting. Jaylen Brown added 20 points for the Celtics (41-17) in the victory.
Wednesday's Best: Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell picked up two fouls in the first three minutes, sat for the next eight minutes, and then re-entered the game and scored 22 points before halftime. He hit a baseline jumper to give Utah the lead in the second quarter, and then he canned back-to-back threes to help the Jazz retake the lead in the third. The third-year guard has scored 30+ points in three straight games, and he's now scored 35+ points seven times this season.
man— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 27, 2020
Don with 32pic.twitter.com/lH3WVjHuND— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 27, 2020
Mitchell (22) and Tatum (25) combined for 47 points in the first half alone. Mitchell's 20 second-quarter points tied his career high for points in a quarter, while Tatum's 25 were a career-best for points in a half.
Utah's defense was once again a problem as Boston shot 53.6 percent from the field, including 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from 3-point range. The Celtics also outscored the Jazz 56-46 in the paint.
All-Star point guard Kemba Walker (knee) missed his fourth straight game. ... The Celtics have now won 14 of their last 17 games. ... Former Jazz forward Gordon Hayward was booed during the pregame introductions—and then again every time he touched the ball. Hayward finished with 12 points in 36 minutes. ... Utah shot 12-for-40 (30.0 percent) from three, with Conley (5-for-9) leading the way. ... Gobert (third quarter) and Boston center Daniel Theis (second quarter) each picked up a technical foul. ... The teams were nearly even in fouls (17 for Boston, 16 for Utah) and turnovers (nine for Boston, 10 for Utah).
The Jazz will stay at home to face the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm MT.