Celtics beat Jazz 97-87 for first victory

Celtics beat Jazz 97-87 for first victory
November 6, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Jeff Green drives past Utah's Richard Jefferson. Green scored 18 points in the Celtics' first victory.

(AP Photo)

BOSTON — The Celtics' avoided a date with infamy with a rousing 97-87 victory over Utah.

Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 20 points, followed by Jeff Green's 18 points. Kelly Olynyk (14 points) and Jared Sullinger (12 points) also had strong games off the bench with 14 and 12 points.

Utah was led by Gordon Hayward's game-high 28 points.

A loss on Wednesday would have tied Boston (1-4) with the 1946-1947 Celtics team for the worst start in franchise history.

Rather than join the infamous teams of the past, the Celtics put on the kind of performance that bodes well for their future in securing coach Brad Stevens' first victory in the NBA.

Still, it wouldn't be a Celtics game if there wasn't some kind of collapse in the fourth quarter, right?

Utah opened the fourth quarter with a 17-3 run that trimmed Boston's lead to single digits, 87-79, following a Hayward jumper.

Jordan Crawford ended the Jazz surge momentarily with a floater along the baseline. He finished with seven points and four assists.

Utah continued to surge back. An Enes Kanter put-back made it an 89-83 game.

The Jazz were unable to get any closer, as the Celtics - for a change - made a slew of key plays down the stretch to get Brad Stevens his first win as an NBA coach.

Adjustments were a common theme throughout the night for Boston, beginning with the team's new starting lineup.

Crawford, who has been the team's best playmaker this season, was inserted into the starting lineup while Gerald Wallace was relegated to sixth man status.

In his first game as a reserve, Wallace had a near double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Crawford's playmaking was on display early on, while Wallace's all-around, high-energy game was instrumental in the Celtics taking a 20-10 deficit in the first and turning it around with a 16-3 run to end the quarter and lead 26-23.

The Celtics continued to control the action in the second quarter which was once again fueled by a strong finish to the quarter.

Leading 34-30, Boston went on a 16-4 run to take a 50-34 lead into the half.

The third quarter was more of the same for the Celtics as they pushed their lead to as many as 25 points before going into the fourth with an 84-62 lead.

Keeping Utah in the game was Hayward, who played at Butler under Stevens.

With the loss, the Jazz (0-5) along with Denver (0-3), remain the only winless teams in the NBA.