Jazz 110, Celtics 98

Jazz too tough as Celtics end trip winless

Utah’s Alec Burks (team-high 21 points) was in the middle of the Jazz’s victory, as well as between Celtics forwards Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass.
Utah’s Alec Burks (team-high 21 points) was in the middle of the Jazz’s victory, as well as between Celtics forwards Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass.

SALT LAKE CITY — The West is best. Just ask the Celtics.

In the last two months, they have made two lengthy trips across the Mississippi River to sample Western Conference competition.

And after both treks, the Celtics returned home with this many wins: zero.


Their painful tour out West began with a five-game swing in January.

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Then the Celtics came back for a four-game trip — and they again came up empty after losing Monday night to the Utah Jazz, 110-98.

How would Celtics coach Brad Stevens assess the trip?

“Not very successful.”

Just like last month, though he said they had a chance to win games on both trips.


“But we just haven’t done enough to win,” Stevens said. “That bothers me, because that’s kind of the difference between good teams and not-so-good teams, is that kind of being able to get it done when it’s all on the line.”

The Celtics (19-39) have lost five straight and six of seven overall.

“We’ve got to get our road wins up, as far as against the Western Conference teams,” said swingman Gerald Wallace. “I don’t think we’ve beat a Western Conference team on the road this year.”

Bingo. The Celtics are 0-13 on the road against Western Conference teams and 4-22 against them overall.

The Celtics’ have lost 18 consecutive road games against the West. Their last win came here, in EnergySolutions Arena against the Jazz on Feb. 25, 2013.


But if the Celtics were hoping to snap that streak a year later, they could forget it.

With starters Jared Sullinger (mild concussion) and Avery Bradley (ankle) absent, the Celtics were outmanned, even against a bad team, as Utah (20-36) has the NBA’s seventh-worst record while Boston has the fourth-worst.

“We’re missing [Bradley’s] ball pressure,” said Celtics captain Rajon Rondo. “We’re missing [Sullinger’s] presence down low. They attacked us inside-out tonight.

“Overall, we still gave up a lot of uncontested threes. It’s a matter of the team coming together collectively and having some better pride in getting stops consecutively.”

The Celtics trailed by as many as 18 and played uphill almost the entire night.

It can be rather taxing to play uphill the whole game, said Rondo, who returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game against Sacramento to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

“Somebody’s got to do it, and of late, it’s been us,” Rondo said after tallying 18 points and 10 assists in 33 minutes. “We’ve been fighting from behind, for the most part, especially starting the fourth quarters. We’ve just got to keep digging and find a way.”

Jazz forward Derrick Favors returned from a three-game absence with a strained hip to score 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Forward Marvin Williams added 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Against those two, the undersized Celtics had no answer.

“They’re big, strong guys,” said rookie forward Kelly Olynyk, who scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench for Boston. “They’re pretty talented and pretty strong.”

Alec Burks scored 21 off the bench to lead the Jazz.

Gordon Hayward added 8 points and 10 assists as the former Butler star earned a win against his former college coach.

For the Celtics, Jeff Green scored 21 points and Jerryd Bayless added 13 off the bench.

But Boston shot 44 percent from the floor, looking weary at the tail end of its trip, with many shots hitting the front of the iron.

“It’s been a long trip.” Wallace said. “A lot of guys haven’t been home to Boston since last Wednesday or whatever. You take that into consideration. The energy was there, the guys mentally were there, it’s just guys physically — guys were running in concrete.”

The Celtics hope for better luck at home, and they’ll open a five-game homestand on Wednesday, when they play the Atlanta Hawks.

But for now, they’ll have to swallow yet another loss.

“They are what they are — they’re losses,” Rondo said. “We’ve lost a lot this year. But individually and collectively, we’ve just got to continue to try to get better each game. It sounds cliché. We’ve been saying that for a while. But it’s a reality.

“We can’t harp or think about how many losses we have as a team because we still have another [24] games to go.”

And many of those games will be against teams that will likely make the playoffs.

“We can’t put our head down,” Rondo said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We get paid pretty good to do what we do, go out there and compete. We have to perform better.”

Baxter Holmes can be reached at