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Celtics crush Jazz to remain unbeaten at home

By AFP - Jan 06,2024 - Last updated at Jan 06,2024

Walker Kessler #24 of the Utah Jazz fouls Kristaps Porzingis #8 of the Boston Celtics during the second quarter at TD Garden on Saturday in Boston, Massachusetts (AFP photo)

LOS ANGELES — The Boston Celtics used suffocating defence and 17 three-pointers to overwhelm the Utah Jazz 126-97 on Saturday, maintaining their perfect home record with a bounce-back NBA win.

Jayson Tatum scored 30 points — his 14th 30-point game of the season. Kristaps Porzingis added 19 and Jrue Holiday chipped in 14 in the wire-to-wire victory over a Jazz team that had won nine of their previous 12 games.

Boston, whose six-game winning streak was snapped in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, set the tone early with Tatum’s block of a Kris Dunn layup attempt and Jaylen Brown’s rejection of Lauri Markkanen at the rim.

The Celtics jumped to a 10-0 lead and after Porzingis drilled a three-pointer to make it 18-8 midway through the first quarter the Jazz wouldn’t get the deficit to single digits again.

The Celtics made 17 three-pointers on the way to their seventh victory in eight games.

“Tonight’s game was about taking away their speed with our physicality and off-ball defence, and I thought we did that,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said after Boston stymied a Jazz team that put up 154 points in an overtime win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The Celtics pushed their league-best record to 27-7 and notched their ninth straight game of 120 points or more.

“I think it’s just the talent, honestly,” Porzingis said. “Us settling in a little bit to our roles and into our ways of playing. And we’re just that talented to be honest.

“Tonight they were doubling JT and he was willing to make the right pass and the right play. That’s an automatic, huge advantage for us.”

Elsewhere, Western Conference leaders Minnesota snapped their first two-game skid of the season with a 122-95 victory over the Rockets in Houston.

Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 with eight rebounds and six assists.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 33 points.

In Indianapolis, the Indiana Pacers’ high-octane offense was firing in a 150-116 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.

Tyrese Haliburton handed out 18 of the Pacers’ franchise-record 50 assists and also scored 10 points with eight rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter along with the rest of the Pacers’ starters.

 

‘Unselfish’ 

 

Myles Turner scored 27 points to lead the Pacers, who had eight players score in double figures.

“We’re all unselfish and we all can score the ball — that’s great basketball to see,” Pacers guard Bruce Brown said after Indiana notched a sixth straight win.

“Keep staying together, playing the right way and we’ll continue to win.”

In Brooklyn, the Nets halted their five-game losing streak with a 124-115 victory over the Thunder.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Nic Claxton scored 23 points apiece and Cam Thomas broke out of his shooting slump with 19 points for the Nets, who led by as many as 32 in the third quarter.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 34 points, six rebounds and nine assists, but Oklahoma City have now lost two straight since surprising the Celtics.

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