Celtics

BSJ Game Report: Jazz 123, Celtics 115: Joe Ingles, Jazz offense spoil Hayward’s return

(Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Everything you need to know about the Jazz beating the Celtics, 123-115, on Friday night in BSJ Quickie Form, with insight and analysis. 

Box Score

HEADLINES

Joe Ingles puts on a show as C’s defense crumbles: Career nights are a dime a dozen for Celtics’ opponents on this road trip. After watching Jamal Murray put up 48 points on Monday night in Denver, Joe Ingles delivered the best performance of his career on Friday, scorching the Celtics for a career-high 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting (5-of-9 from 3-point range) to pace a Jazz offense that shot 55 percent from the field and had six players in double figures. Utah scored over 27 points in all four quarters as the C’s struggled to string together more than a few stops at a time, which ultimately prevented any chance at a comeback in the second half despite a strong shooting night from Terry Rozier (22 points) and Jayson Tatum (21 points).  

Gordon Hayward faces the music: The former Jazz All-Star made his long awaited return to Salt Lake in what was largely an uneventful performance for the 28-year-old forward. He posted 13 points and 7 assists in 25 minutes, but was picked on repeatedly on the defensive end by Ingles and other Jazz scorers who tried to take advantage of his limited foot speed off picks. A chorus of boos greeted Hayward every time he touched the ball all night.

“It was fun,” Hayward said. “It was good to see just the people walking in, see some of the people around the arena, obviously the staff over there and some of the players. So I wish we would have won the game but it was good to see everybody.”

TURNING POINT

The Jazz offense absolutely erupted in the final two minutes of the second quarter, which featured four straight 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions. Ingles set the table for a lot of those clean looks and helped the hosts re-take the lead with a 12-3 run heading into halftime. The C’s could never cut the lead below four points over the final 24 minutes.

TWO UP

Al Horford in first half: The big man paced the offense in the first half, delivering a number of jump shots in the pick-and-roll off of dishes from Hayward and Smart on his way to nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. The C’s offense generally does good things when he gets involved and that was the case for the first 20-plus minutes of this one.   

The Jazz pick-and-roll: The Jazz have a number of weapons to run it with Ingles, Ricky Rubio and a great rolling big in Rudy Gobert but the C’s looked like they had no chance against it for most of the night. That trio feasted on open jump shots and easy dunks by Gobert at the rim as the C’s had to pick their poison on every possession.

TWO DOWN

Jaylen Brown: The rollercoaster ride continues for the shooting guard. After a stellar second half against the Suns, the third-year swingman tried to take on a bigger scoring role with Kyrie Irving getting the night off and the shot selection and finishing continue to regress from last season. He missed 13 of his 17 shots from the field, including six of seven from 3-point range, on his way to an inefficient nine-point night.

Celtics’ defense: After playing what Brad Stevens called their worst defensive game of the season on Monday in Denver, Boston’s regression on that end of the floor continued in Utah. Tired legs after a long night in Phoenix may have factored into Boston’s subpar performance, but the Jazz managed to light Boston up for the first three quarters, shooting a scorching 61 percent from the field and posting 27 points in one five-minute stretch in the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. The pick-and-roll is the simplest play in the NBA but the C’s had no answer for it in Utah with weak rotations, late closeouts and ill-advised fouling in the penalty.

TOP PLAY

Very nice find here by Brown in the first quarter

TWO TAKES B-ROBB WILL PROBABLY REGRET LATER

It’s hard to tell how much of the defensive woes to blame on fatigue: Back-to-back games are hard, particularly against rested opponents. Factor in playing at elevation against a motivated Jazz team that is trying to break out of some early-season struggles of their own and you have the recipe for an ugly performance. Still, this ugly performance was not an isolated incident. The C’s let Jamal Murray go off on Monday night in Denver and the same happened in Phoenix on Thursday night even though the C’s were lucky enough to escape in that one. The top-tier defense that won Boston games to start the year is disappearing quickly and it’s unclear which version of the C’s is the real one. We’ll find out more on Sunday night in Portland against another dynamic backcourt in CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard.  

Jae Crowder has found the perfect landing spot: After struggling through a few months in Cleveland, the gritty small forward looks like the perfect role player once again in Quin Synder’s system. He lit up the C’s with 20 points off the bench, including 4-of-9 shooting from downtown, while providing some gritty defense and rebounding. With another year left on his bargain deal, he’s going to be the perfect stretch four for the Jazz as they try to transform themselves into a threat in a loaded Western Conference behind a talented young core.