Stars, Studs and Duds: Celtics can't cool off hot Jazz shooters

Stars, Studs and Duds: Celtics can't cool off hot Jazz shooters

SALT LAKE CITY – The Celtics road woes continued with a 123-115 loss at Utah.

Boston (7-5) has dropped three of its past four – all on the road – to secure a losing record for this five-game road trip which ends in Portland on Sunday.

And like most of the previous losses, Boston’s defense has been ineffective for long stretches that ultimately played a pivotal role in the defeat.

Utah came in as one of the top shooting teams in the NBA and they showed why by connecting on 55.8 percent of their shots from the field.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night.

Joe Ingles

The sharpshooting big man was in full-blown splash mode against the Celtics, doing most of his damage in the first half. He would finish with a team-high 27 points, 20 of which came in the first two quarters of play. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds.

Terry Rozier
He was filling in for Kyrie Irving (who missed the game for personal reasons) and while he didn’t quite deliver a Kyrie-like game, Rozier was one of the better performers for Boston. For the game, he had a team-high 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting along with six rebounds and three assists without a turnover.

Donovan Mitchell
He found his groove scoring the ball in the third quarter, playing a pivotal role in Utah getting the victory. He would tally 21 points, including a number of baskets in iso situations where he attacked Gordon Hayward off the dribble. He also had five assists.

Jayson Tatum
Less than 24 hours after one of his worst shooting nights as a pro, Tatum was indeed more efficient Friday night. He finished with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting to go with four assists and three rebounds.

Rudy Gobert
The Celtics haven’t been good at getting points in the paint this season and having to contend with 7-foot-1 Gobert didn’t help. Not only does he defend at a high level, but he also hurt the Celtics with a series of lob dunks before finishing with a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Marcus Morris
He continues to deliver the goods off the bench, delivering one big shot after another in the second half before finishing with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds.

Ricky Rubio
He was a key to the good shooting night by the Jazz, scoring 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field to go with seven assists and six rebounds.

Jae Crowder
The trend of Crowder coming up big against former teams continues. The former Celtic had 20 points off the bench on 8-for-15 shooting while knocking down four of his nine 3-point attempts. 

Celtics defense
For too many stretches, they allowed the Utah shooters to get too comfortable whether it was raising up for a 3-pointer or finishing at the rim. They were better in the fourth quarter but again, they allowed the Jazz to get into a rhythm that they were able to maintain for most of the game.

Brad Stevens
The Celtics aren’t executing as well as they should and while the players certainly deserve their share of the blame for that, some of that should also fall upon the shoulders of the coach. He has shown himself to be one of the best at getting the most out of whatever he has been given to work with. And while the Celtics certainly have a difficult schedule out of the gate, they’re simply not getting it done in crunch time. In the past, that's often when Stevens and his Xs and O’s tended to shine brightly. He’s still one of the best coaches out there, just like the team he coaches has lots of really good players. But lately, neither has delivered the kind of performances Celtics fans have come to expect.

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Al Horford, Celtics due for big game after long layoff

Al Horford, Celtics due for big game after long layoff

BOSTON --  The return of Al Horford to the Boston Celtics lineup will be soon, possibly as early as Wednesday’s game against Phoenix.

And Horford, who has missed the last five games with patellofemoral pain syndrome, will be looking for a solid return - a trend among his fellow Celtics who have returned to action after missing multiple games this season.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has indicated that Horford’s issue was not one that will keep him out for a significant amount of time.

“Just to strengthen him and get him feeling a lot better,” Stevens told reporters, reminding them that Horford being shelved for a few games is similar to what the Celtics did with Marcus Morris at the start of last season.

“And make sure that he (Horford) feels great instead of going in and out like this,” Stevens said.

Horford told reporters the injury just wasn’t getting any better with while he continued playing.


So the suggestion that he miss games, while not the news Horford wanted to hear, was eventually accepted as the best course of action right now.

“I just have to listen to the training staff and what the doctors are telling me,” Horford told reporters. “I’ve got to buy into that.”

Horford has missed the last five games, and seven of the last 11. 

Fortunately for Horford, the Celtics have managed to find success in his absence with wins in four of the last five games played without him.

But the real benefit upon Horford’s return will likely be found in both his play and that of the team.

Boston returns to the floor on Wednesday after having not played since a loss at Detroit on Saturday, a solid three days in between.

This season, the Celtics are 6-1 in games in which they have at least two days in between games, with the lone loss being an early season road loss at conference-leading Toronto.


Jaylen Brown, who missed three games with a lower back bruise, returned to the floor and scored 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with three rebounds and two assists.

Gordon Hayward (illness) missed a couple games and returned to the lineup and scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, which included him making all three of his 3-pointers to go with three rebounds and five assists.

The return after missing a few games was also a solid one for Aron Baynes.

After missing three games with a right hamstring injury, Baynes had nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and five rebounds in Boston’s 108-105 win over Detroit on October 30.

Baynes would later miss two games because of a sprained ankle. In his return he had just three points with five rebounds and two assists in Boston’s 130-125 overtime win.

The only other Celtics player to have missed at least two consecutive games because of an injury or illness is Daniel Theis, who was out six games with a right plantar fascia tear. He played just five minutes and was scoreless in Boston’s six-point loss at Portland on Nov. 11.

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NBA rumors: Celtics have been hawking Anthony Davis for years

NBA rumors: Celtics have been hawking Anthony Davis for years

The clock is ticking until next summer when the New Orleans Pelicans can offer superstar center Anthony Davis a super-max contract extension -- in the likely event he makes an All-NBA team for the 2018-19 season and is eligible for such a deal.

That contract would be worth $235 million over five years, so Davis would be giving up a lot of money by turning it down. But if he accepts, he'd have to prolong his career in New Orleans, where he's unlikely to ever make a deep playoff run.

Davis declining that extension would pretty much force the Pelicans to trade him, and ESPN's Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski recently talked about that scenario in a recent video segment. 

"If he says no to that, the entire league is now in disarray because anyone with trade assets, including LeBron's team, including a very good Boston team, will be doing everything it can to get Anthony Davis," Lowe said. "It's the biggest story in the league. The entire landscape could change based on what he does."

The Boston Celtics have been linked to Davis in trade rumors for a while, and Wojnarowski shed some light on that during this segment.

"Boston has been hawking Anthony Davis for years," Wojnarowski said. "They always hoped that it would be, whether it's the end of this season or the beginning of next before the trade deadline, that they would gather up all those assets, all those picks Danny Ainge has and young players, and they'd be the team to be able to get Anthony Davis. But now you have L.A. and if they get shut out in free agency, they're going to have to take all their young players to try to use them to get Anthony Davis."

You can watch the entire exchange between Wojnarowski and Lowe in the video below.

Few players have the ability to change the balance of power in the NBA with their free-agent decision, but Davis certainly fits in that group. Davis is averaging 28 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting 50.3 percent from the field this season. The 25-year-old center is a generational talent. 

The competition for him, if he ever becomes available for trade, will be fierce. The Celtics likely have the most to offer, and it's up to president of basketball operatons Danny Ainge to find the right price without completely gutting the enormous depth he's built for Boston's current roster.

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