Celtics beat Jazz 97-87 for Stevens’s first NBA win
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) loses control of the ball as Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) moves in at left during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives against Boston Celtics forwards Kelly Olynyk (41) and Jared Sullinger (7) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) is cleared out by Boston Celtics power forward Jeff Green, right, as he shoots during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
BOSTON – Brandon Bass scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 18 to lead the Boston Celtics to their first win of the season, 97-87 over the Utah Jazz last night.
The game reunited new Celtics Coach Brad Stevens with Gordon Hayward, the Butler star who took the Bulldogs to the NCAA championship game against Duke and just missed a shot from inside half court that would have won it. Hayward had 28 points and nine rebounds for Utah (0-5), one of the last two winless teams in the NBA this season.
The attendance of 17,130 was about 1,500 fans short of a sellout, ending a streak of 289 games dating to the end of the 2006-07 season. That was the last game before the Celtics (1-4) brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce for a New Big 3 that won the franchise’s record 17th NBA championship.
Derrick Favors scored 10 points with 14 rebounds and Enes Kanter scored 22 with eight boards for the Jazz, who open a season with five straight losses for the first time since 1974, when they were still in New Orleans.
Gerald Wallace had nine points and nine rebounds for Boston, which led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter before Utah scored 17 of the first 20 in the fourth to cut a 22-point deficit into single digits.
Garnett and Pierce helped Boston win the 2008 NBA title and took the Celtics back to the Finals two years later. But the team was dismantled this summer when they were traded to the Brooklyn Nets and Coach Doc Rivers left for the Los Angeles Clippers. Stevens, who guided Butler to back-to-back NCAA championship games, took over the Celtics – his first NBA experience as a coach or player.
The rebuilding Celtics lost their first four games, including last week’s home opener in which they blew a 22-point lead.
But in Stevens’s second game in front of the home crowd, the Celtics held on.
The Jazz opened a 16-3 lead in the first five minutes, but Boston scored the next seven points and cut it to three points, 26-23, by the end of the quarter. The Celtics made the first four baskets of the second to take the lead, and they scored 12 consecutive points at the end of the half to take a 16-point lead.
It was 70-45 midway through the third quarter and 84-62 heading into the fourth before the Celtics missed eight of their next nine shots. Utah cut it to single digits, but Jared Sullinger made a baby hook with 3:16 to play to make it 93-83 and, after Kanter dunked on a feed from Hayward, Bass scored to make it 95-85.
∎ The Celtics entered the night averaging 21 turnovers per game; they had 15. Utah averaged 19.8 turnovers and committed 22.
∎ The Celtics avoided starting the season 0-5 for the first time since 1946, when they lost the first five games in franchise history.
∎ The Jazz played the “old Celtics,” also known as the Brooklyn Nets, on Tuesday night and lost, 104-88.