NBA: Celtics ride roughshod over hapless Jazz
Boston • Deron Williams was at a loss. Nearly speechless. Completely frustrated and flustered. But instead of firing away, pointing fingers or indulging in dramatics, the Jazz guard initially opted for near silence.
Asked about Utah's obvious lack of offensive and defensive execution Friday night during a 110-86 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics, the All-Star player and team leader initially offered one word: "Nothing."
"I don't even got much to say," Williams said.
But he soon acknowledged what was even more obvious. Utah's lackluster 0-3 run during the first three contests of a four-game East Coast road trip has clearly marked a low point this season for the Jazz (27-16).
Utah was first humbled and embarrassed during back-to-back losses to struggling Washington and New Jersey teams that have a combined 24-70 record.
But that was nothing compared with the way the Celtics (33-9) totally trampled the Jazz. Performing and looking exactly like a team that holds the second-best record in the NBA, Boston completely outplayed and outclassed Utah.
The Celtics led by as many as 25 points, while the Jazz never held an advantage. Boston shot 55.2 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from the 3-point line and 87.1 percent from the free-throw line. The Celtics distributed 31 assists on 37 made field goals, while a Utah team that heavily relies on streamlined offensive execution committed more turnovers (21) than it distributed assists (19).
But the lopsided numbers were only part of the story. The Jazz again lacked energy and focus, and Utah once again started slow Boston led 27-12 with 3 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
In turn, the Jazz moved further away from the team that soared through a seven-game winning streak from Nov. 20 to Dec. 1 a squad known throughout the league for its resiliency and highlighted by a series of thrilling comeback victories and closer to a club that is in a major midseason slump.
"It's rough. It's been rough all season. And it's getting worse," said Williams, who was held to a season-low five points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Reserve guard Earl Watson topped the Jazz with 12 points. Kevin Garnett who constantly exploited Utah's lack of inside height led the Celtics with 21.
Williams was plagued by early foul trouble he picked up two personal fouls just 3:42 into the game while Jazz stars Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and C.J. Miles all saw their time limited due to fouls.
Williams said the calls instantly killed his rhythm, taking him out of a game that he was pumped to play in the hope that Utah would rediscover its "swagger."
Miles pointed out, though, that the Jazz allowed themselves to be mentally removed from the contest as fouls quickly piled up, which, in turn, allowed a machinelike Boston squad to fire away at will.
"We were mad four minutes into the game," Miles said.
Then he delivered a stronger message.
Miles said that a Utah team known for its year-to-year consistency is about to be seriously tested. The Jazz have lost three consecutive games for the first time in more than a year a period when Carlos Boozer, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver were still wearing Utah uniforms.
Longtime Utah guard Ronnie Price said that he doesn't know what's going on with the Jazz right now, while Williams acknowledged that it isn't in coach Jerry Sloan's character to make a sudden lineup change just to find a spark.
Thus, the Jazz are going to have to discover the light themselves. And a team that has prided itself since training camp on improved chemistry, a tight locker room and on-the-court, all-for-one accountability is going to have to stick together and unearth the answer on its own.
"This is the first time it's been this bad with these new faces," Miles said.
"Now we'll see what's going to happen. Who we are, what we want to do, if we want to win how bad we want to win. Nobody's going to give us nothing."
R In short • The Jazz are blown out by the Boston Celtics 110-86 Friday on the road.
Key stat • Utah guard Deron Williams scores a season-low five points on 1-of-4 shooting.
Key moment • Leading 59-41 at halftime, Boston begins the third quarter with a 13-7 run.