SALT LAKE CITY — The Celtics came here with plenty of reasons to lose. It was the final matchup of a long four-game road trip, they were playing their second game in as many nights, and they were without their All-Star point guard, Kemba Walker.
But Jayson Tatum continued to scorch, and this time he got some help, as the Celtics closed out the 3-1 trip with an emphatic 114-103 win over the playoff-bound Jazz, who have lost four home games in a row.
Tatum finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds to lead Boston. He has now scored at least 28 points in five consecutive games. All five Boston starters finished in double figures in scoring. Marcus Smart hit three 3-pointers during a critical fourth-quarter stretch and had 17 points, 9 assists and 3 steals.
Observations from the game:
■ Even though it has seemed recently that Tatum can do it all, it’s good to have some help. And during a two-minute stretch in the third quarter, Smart happily picked up the slack. The guard drilled three 3-pointers, the last a dagger with 7:44 left that gave Boston a 98-87 lead. But the most surprising moment might have come on the next play. When Smart is cooking, he is never one to turn down a chance to keep cooking. But in this case, he passed up a chance to fire up another 3-pointer and instead found Enes Kanter for a layup that made it 100-87 and led to plenty of boos from Jazz fans.
■ Later, Wanamaker added two big baskets. The first came when Tatum faced a trap just inside midcourt and fired a perfect pass to the guard, who swerved into the lane for a three-point lane. Then he added a runner soon after.
■ Gordon Hayward was making just his second appearance here since leaving to sign a four-year deal with the Celtics three years ago. And it’s safe to say the fans have not forgotten. They booed Hayward lustily during starting lineup introductions and then continued to boo every time he touched the ball. It’s hard to say if it was affecting Hayward, but he certainly didn’t have a great first half. About seven minutes passed before he attempted a shot, and then most of his attempts fell well short of going in. He was 1 for 6 from the field before halftime. He did receive cheers when he committed a foul just 11 seconds into the game.
■ Donovan Mitchell collected his second foul less than three minutes into the game and went to the bench for a long stretch soon after. Celtics coach Brad Stevens almost always ignores it when his players—particularly his stars—are whistled for two quick fouls, believing that the slight risk of another quick foul is outweighed by actually having that player on the court to do damage.
Utah trailed 6-4 when Mitchell went to the bench, and by the time he returned six minutes later, they had scored just four more points and trailed 19-8.
■ Marcus Smart continued to show off his passing ability. He started the break with a nice one after saving the ball on the baseline, and then he whipped a nifty over-the-shoulder offering to Daniel Theis in the post for a dunk.
■ The good news for the Jazz was that they had Mitchell on the court for the second quarter. And the good news for the Celtics was that they had Tatum at the other end to match him. The two traded big shot after big shot, with Mitchell doing most of his work attacking the basket and Tatum mixing in a few drives with a heavy dose of perimeter work. Tatum had 18 points in the period and Mitchell scored 20, spearheading his team’s powerful 19-4 run.
■ Mitchell probably should have had a few more. After Tatum swerved into the lane for a layup with 4.6 seconds left, Mitchell let the ball roll upcourt without the clock starting before grabbing it and firing up a deep 3-pointer out of a double team. No foul was called, but replay clearly showed Celtics guard Marcus Smart holding Mitchell’s left arm down on the play. The two appeared to have some somewhat friendly words about it afterward.
■ Daniel Theis was having another solid half before being called for an illegal screen, his third of the game, with 5:09 left before halftime. Before he was taken out for the rest of the half he picked up a technical foul for arguing about the call. With Enes Kanter in, the Mitchell and the Jazz consistently looked to attack him. But Theis was once again an essential component in Boston’s win, finishing with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
■ It was mostly a quiet night for Gobert, who came in averaging 15.5 points and 14.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics wings did a good job shielding the ball as they attacked the basket against the elite shot-blocker, and they did well to keep him away from easy putbacks at the other end. He just never got into a rhythm. On one third-quarter play, he was near the baseline as he gathered a defensive rebound. Theis sensed the uncomfortable angle and put some pressure on Gobert as he began to lose his balance, and Theis then swallowed the pass and went in for an easy dunk.