By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON As the final seconds ticked away at the TD Garden, the Green and White-clad sea of fans weren't the only ones cheering.
Ray Allen. Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo.
All of the Boston Celtics' starters were off the floor for the entire fourth quarter, rooting for their backups, as the C's delivered an emphatic 110-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The C's got off to a fast start, kept it going throughout the first half and continued to pull away in the third quarter.
Utah has been arguably the best come-from-behind team in the NBA this season.
But starting the fourth quarter down by 22 points, on the road, at Boston?
For a moment, the Jazz did make things somewhat interesting.
After a jumper by Utah's Franciso Elson cut Boston's lead to 17 points, the Celtics closed out the quarter with a 6-1 spurt that included four free throws from rookie Semih Erden.
That gave the C's a commanding 22-point lead going into the fourth.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers had every intention of having his reserves finish out the game.
In the fourth, a free throw by Elson cut Boston's lead to 19 points with 4:57 to play.
"I was concerned," Rivers admitted. "They cut it to nineteen and my number (to bring back the starters) was fifteen."
Nate Robinson hit a 3-pointer that pushed Boston's lead back to 22 points.
"I had just told the starters to get stretched," Rivers said. "Because I was thinking they may have to go back in. So it's nice to be able to get any rest."
Especially when it comes in the first game of a back-to-back set.
"It's always good to give them (starters) a chance to rest, especially on back-to-backs," Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels told CSNNE.com. "Regardless, anytime it's good. We're going to need those guys later on in the season. The more playing time we get, that'll help us out because you never know when we'll be called on."
Glen Davis knows this better than most of Boston's backups.
Davis has started nine games this season in place of Kevin Garnett, who was out with a muscle strain in his lower right leg.
As a starter, Davis averaged 13.7 points per game.
Coming off the bench, he still chips in with a respectable 12.5 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field as a reserve.
Davis understands the importance of the bench being able to maintain a comfortable lead, with or without a game the following night.
"We need as much rest as possible," Davis told CSNNE.com following a 15-point, 7-rebound effort against the Jazz. "Going out there, doing what we do."