Celtics swing past Jazz, 94-82

Celtics swing past Jazz, 94-82
March 29, 2012, 2:10 am
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BOSTON The Boston Celtics couldn't rebound.

Again.

They couldn't bury a team when they first had a chance.

Again.

But they managed to make just enough plays when it mattered most, to pull out a win.

Again.

After seeing an 18-point lead smashed into nothing more than a four-point cushion in the third quarter, Boston came up with a slew of big plays in the fourth to extend their impressive play at home with a 94-82 win over Utah.

With the victory, Boston (28-22) moved back into a tie atop the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia.

Paul Pierce has been carrying much of the C's scoring load of late, and he once again had a big night scoring for the C's with 20 points.

But it was Kevin Garnett who had the hot hand, tallying a game-high 23 points to go with 10 rebounds for his team-best 16th double-double, while shooting 10-for-16 from the field.

Utah was led by Gordon Hayward's strong all-around game of 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two how-the-heck-did-he-do-that? blocks in the third quarter on an attempted lay-up by Keyon Dooling and a dunk attempt by Avery Bradley.

After leading by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, it was inevitable that the C's lead would dissipate some.

Indeed it did, as Utah went on a 17-3 run that cut Boston's lead to 64-60.

A pair of free throws by Pierce with 1:12 to play in the third pushed the C's lead back to six points.

But it was clear that Utah's size and rebounding dominance were having a major impact on the game as the Celtics took a 66-61 lead into the fourth.

Even with the challenges that Utah's size presented, the first quarter was once again one in which the Celtics got seemingly whatever shot they wanted.

But the difference on Wednesday?

Most of them didn't go in, which allowed the Utah Jazz to lead, 21-18 after the first.

In the second, Boston's shot-making was much-improved which allowed them to pull away and take control behind a commanding 46-35 halftime lead.

Playing without Ray Allen (ankle) for the fourth straight game, the C's got contributions from many.

At the half, Pierce and Brandon Bass led all scorers with 11 points each. The trigger man to that scoring, as usual, was Rajon Rondo who had four points to go along with his seven assists which were coming in both half-court sets as well as in transition. He finished with six points and a game-high 14 assists.

For the Jazz, it was par for the course in terms of their play on the road this season.

Utah (27-24) came into the game having won 11 more games at home (19) than on the road (8), the largest discrepancy in the NBA.

Among the Jazz players to struggle mightily in the first half was former Celtic Big Al Jefferson, who missed seven of his eight shots from the field. He finished with 18 points on 7-for-19 shooting.

And the Celtics' biggest concern coming in -- rebounding -- was indeed proving to be an issue as Utah had a 28-16 advantage on the boards at the half. However, Boston was able to make sure Utah's board work didn't result in much damage on the scoreboard. For the game, Utah out-rebounded the C's, 49-38.