SALT LAKE CITY – Jaylen Brown didn’t play, and point guard availability was limited for Boston. In the end, those two facts may have cost the Celtics a win Thursday night in Utah.
Boston, playing both without both Brown and Demetrius Jackson, watched its offense stall during crunch time as the Jazz stormed back from a 13-point deficit to capture a 68-65 win.
The Celtics led by 13 points after Abdel Nader canned a 3-pointer with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter. Boston held onto an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s when the Jazz found their rhythm.
Utah rallied around Dante Exum’s offense and Donovan Mitchell’s defense as it tied the game up less than three minutes into the final period. Tony Bradley managed to dunk one home through Tatum’s defense to tie the game up at 56-56, and Utah took its first lead of the second half shortly thereafter.
Exum scored seven points during the fourth quarter, while Mitchell hounded Tatum with defense that ignited Utah’s offense.
“We made the point (to Mitchell): you can impact the game besides scoring and shooting,” acting Jazz head coach Alex Jensen said of Mitchell’s defensive impact. “That’s what he did. That was a big difference in the game.”
Thanks in large part to Mitchell’s efforts, Boston’s offense went cold during the fourth quarter, as it totaled only 11 points compared to Utah’s 22. It surely missed the presence of Brown, who averaged 17.5 points per game through the first two contests of the week.
Such was a stark contrast to Boston’s first three quarters, during which Tatum and Nader helped to initiate a very successful offensive attack.
The Celtics scored 54 points on 48.7 percent shooting during the first three quarters of play. Nader scored 17 of those points on 6-for-10 shooting, and Tatum added eight to go along with nine rebounds.
The duo totaled only three assists on the night, but acting head coach Jerome Allen was pleased with the way they jumpstarted the offense.
“I thought in spurts they executed the plan,” Allen said after the loss. “I thought they tried to get our guys in the right spots and get us playing with the right pace.”
Nader finished the contest with a game-high 17 points. Tatum, meanwhile tallied his second consecutive double-double, this one consisting of 12 points and 12 boards.
Allen did not tell the two youngsters that the offense would be running through them as they took on the Jazz, but Tatum was prepared for the challenge.
“He’s been switching it up,” Tatum said of Allen following the game. “Before we came here he said guys were going to play different positions. So I kind of expected it. He’s just trying different things.”
Tatum said that he had one specific goal at the onset of the game when the ball was put into his hands.
“Just try to make the right play,” he commented. “Just to get us going, because we had some tough stretches during the game.”
The toughest of stretches were undoubtedly during the second half, and in particular, during the fourth quarter. Boston’s offense went silent, and the Jazz took advantage.
Utah, the hosts of the four-day Summer League, finished the week with an undefeated record of 3-0. Boston, meanwhile, finished with a 1-2 record.
Both teams will head to Las Vegas for a second and lengthier stretch of play during the much larger-scale NBA Summer League, which will feature 24 teams.
The Celtics open up their stretch in Vegas at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when they take on the rival Los Angeles Lakers on ESPN.