BOSTON - After nearly giving up an 18-point lead in the second half, the Boston Celtics used key minutes from their bench and a boost from their stars to recover from the near mishap and hang on for a 94-82 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at TD Garden.
Kevin Garnett led the way for Boston with a vintage 23-point, 10-rebound night. Paul Pierce scored 20 and Brandon Bass added 19 as Boston shot 46.8 percent from the floor. Rajon Rondo only scored six, but had 14 assists. Boston was out-rebounded, 49-38.
"Well it's what we've been doing," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers about his team being out-rebounded. "Do I like it? No. But it's who we are right now. Going into the game rebounding was a key for us and honestly we didn't do a good job there. They're a great rebounding team though. They're number one in the paint and overall I thought we did pretty well."
An uneventful first quarter in which neither team shot better than 36 percent gave way to a strong frame for the Celtics, who used a 24-8 run to pull ahead 42-29 with 2:37 remaining before the half, at which point Boston would take an 11-point advantage, 46-35.
Another strong start in the third quarter had the Celtics up by 18 points (61-43 at 7:39), but the Jazz answered with a 17-3 run in the period to cut the deficit to four points, 64-60 at the 2:18 mark. Al Jefferson helped to spark the run, scoring 10 points during that span.
Utah would tie the game at 66 and trailed by three, 73-70, with 8:35 to go, but Sasha Pavlovic (five points) and Keyon Dooling (seven points) both made timely threes in the fourth to help Boston run its lead back up to eight, 78-70, and both Garnett and Bass would help the Celtics maintain that advantage until the clock hit the triple zeros.
"That's just Boston being Boston," Jefferson said about the Celtics' recovery after the Jazz tied the game. "They stepped up their defense. They hit big shots. They're a veteran team."
"We got down and I'm proud of the fact the guys fought back," said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. "We had a chance ... We missed the two free throws and just didn't have enough to get over the hump at the end. I'm proud of the fact they guys, especially on the road against this team, fought back and gave themselves a chance at the end."
Jefferson had 18 points and 12 rebounds to pace Utah, which was held to 39 percent shooting. Gordon Hayward scored a team-high 19 points and Paul Millsap had 16 points.