Paul Pierce had 23 points as the Boston Celtics used a strong fourth quarter to beat the Utah Jazz, 98-93, from the TD Garden Wednesday night in Boston, MA.
Thanks to Pierce's hot hand, Leandro Barbosa's big play in place of the injured Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green's impact in the fourth quarter, the Celtics took control in the second half after trailing, 46-44, at halftime.
Pierce got going in the third quarter, scoring 11-straight points to open up a two-point lead. Barbosa entered for an injured Rondo, who rolled his right ankle at the 4:54 mark third. He notched a quick six points, which extended Boston's lead to eight points. The Celtics would only lead by three heading into the fourth quarter though when Utah refused to go away.
Without Rondo in the fourth, Jeff Green used his athleticism and size inside to maintain Boston's lead until the remaining minutes, when the Jazz tied the ballgame up 93-93 with just under two minutes remaining.
A late free throw from Kevin Garnett gave the Celtics a one-point lead before Pierce knocked down two free throws with 19.5 second remaining to lead the Jazz by three.
Thanks to 18 offensive rebounds for Utah, the Jazz were able to stay in the game until the very end despite shooting only 40 percent from the field.
Chris Wilcox, Jared Sullinger, Green and Barbosa have developed distinct roles off the bench as the season drags on, making it easier for head coach Doc Rivers to put together a distinct rotation for the time being.
Wilcox seems to be the go-to big man behind Garnett at the center position, while rookie Jared Sullinger is still playing solid minutes behind power forward Brandon Bass. Green and Barbosa have been energy guys off the bench, hustling around the floor, drawing contact inside and running in transition. Green finished with 16 points over 27 minutes, while notching four rebounds and two assists. Barbosa tied Green for a bench-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while dishing out three assists.
Paul Millsap scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds on the night to lead the Jazz, while Rondo notched 10 assists and six points despite not playing most of the second half.
Rondo's 10 assists on the night made it 32-straight games in which he recorded double-digit assists.
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