Boston • Gordon Hayward spun around and leaned back in the air, fading in the direction of the Celtics’ bench and his old college coach, as his jumper pushed the Utah Jazz’s lead to 16-3 midway through the first quarter.
But basketball at this level is a game of swings. Momentum shifts.
Hayward’s former coach, Brad Stevens, said as much Wednesday night after beating the Utah Jazz 97-87 and earning his first victory as head coach of the Boston Celtics.
“The game, in the NBA,” the ex-Butler coach said, “just fluctuates.”
For the Jazz, to this point, losing has been a constant.
But how the team got there Wednesday — its fifth straight loss to open the campaign, marking the team’s worst start since the franchise moved to Utah — was marked by ups and downs.
After a hot start came misery — a lifeless second quarter that saw Utah counter its awful offensive production by allowing Jeff Green and the Celtics too much time and space to line up and knock down shots. Boston was on a 40-14 run when the halftime buzzer sounded.
There was a comeback after that. Down by 25 at one point and playing the second game of back-to-back thousands of miles from home, the Jazz battled back in the fourth quarter, cutting the Celtics’ lead to six before turnovers and timely Boston buckets sealed the loss.
As they turn toward a Friday night game in Chicago, it would be easy enough for the winless Jazz, firmly in the midst of a rebuilding season, to try to remember that silver lining above all else.
“The guys showed some fight at the end of the game,” coach Ty Corbin said.
But sitting on 0-5, Jazz forward Richard Jefferson wasn’t claiming any moral victories.
“That’s fools’ gold,” he said. “I think it’s great to try and save face but we came in here against a team we feel was in a similar position as us. They’re a team that was hungry and needed a win, and when you get two teams that both need wins, you’re going to see who wants it more. Obviously, tonight, they did.”Next Page »