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Analysis: Jazz don’t defend, but score enough for win over Celtics

SHARE Analysis: Jazz don’t defend, but score enough for win over Celtics
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates a 3-pointer.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates a three pointer in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The Jazz won 137-130.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Jazz beat Boston 137-30 on Friday night in a gritty performance as it now heads out on the road for a four-game road trip, beginning Sunday in Cleveland.

High notes

  • Mike Conley was sizzling Friday night, and the Jazz needed him in a big way. When Conley went to the bench at the 8:15 mark of the fourth quarter, the Jazz were leading the Celtics 109-104. When he checked back in two minutes later, the Celtics had ripped off a 9-0 run and the Jazz needed an infusion of poise and execution. Conley delivered, getting Utah into its offense on most possessions, but more than anything, he hit the big shot. Conley made three clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Jazz rallied for a third-straight victory. Conley finished the game 7 of 7 from the 3-point range on his way to tallying 29 points. Donovan Mitchell had a team-high 34 points.

“I thought the way we executed down the stretch was really good, both our defense took a step up and offensively we were recognizing some situations where they were trying to switch people out on the pick and roll and did a good job reacting. Our two guards were terrific.” — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder

  • Turnovers were an issue for the Jazz, but hot shooting from 3-point range ultimately made up for it. They started hot, making 9 of 13 in the first quarter, and never really cooled off, finishing the game shooting 53% (27 of 51). Mitchell did some volume shooting from 3-point range on 6 of 14 shooting. He had the dagger in the final 30 seconds, a 3-pointer that stretched the lead to 133-127 with 28.2 seconds remaining.
  • After three days of rest, the Jazz had plenty of bounce in their step in the first quarter. They connected on 9 of 13 3-pointers in the opening quarter, including three early ones by Donovan Mitchell, in jumping out to a nice early cushion. Jordan Clarkson made Utah’s first 3-pointer attempt in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 14 with 77% clip from behind the arc early in the game.
  • Royce O’Neale was back in the starting lineup after missing the two previous games with a sprained ankle, and he brought a nice energy — and a nice offensive spark. He finished with 12 points on 4 of 4 shooting and 2 of 2 shooting from 3-point range. Seven of his points came in the second quarter.

“That bell keeps ringing and he keeps answering. What he’s given us in terms of his toughness defensively and then he’s been really been consistent and really opportunistic making his shot. He knows when his shot is going to come, and he’s confident shooting it. Oftentimes the baskets he gets are big buckets.” — Snyder

  • Some of the biggest cheers of the night at Vivint Arena early in the game were when scores of the Pac-12 championship were flashed across the jumbotron. First was 20-0, then 23-3 and then 31-3. The last one they showed was a fourth quarter score of Utah leading Oregon 38-10, which brought a raucous cheer as the crowd was already hyped about a Jazz fourth quarter surge.

Low notes

  • There was a massive disparity in turnovers and points off turnovers between Utah and Boston, and the Jazz are lucky it didn’t cost them the game. Utah committed 20 turnovers which led to 31 points for the visitors, while Boston only committed six turnovers which led to just 10 points. The sloppy execution started early. They turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter which led to 13 Celtics points. They still led by 13 after the first quarter, but could’ve easily enjoyed a 20-point cushion through the first 12 minutes with crisper passes and decision-making. Snyder thought a lot of those first half turnovers were the result of trying to move the ball around instead of attacking the lane and then moving the ball.

“A lot of them were unforced, just sloppy or careless. We needed to attack in the beginning of the possession and the ball movement comes after.” — Snyder

Flat notes

  • Rudy Gay was a relative nonfactor in the game despite logging 17 minutes on Friday. He did make one key 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but he only finished with six points on 2 of 7 shooting.
  • Friday’s game was the first of a five-game West Coast swing for the Celtics, and they nearly pulled out the upset. Had it not been for Utah’s crazy shooting it might’ve pulled it out.