Boston, MA – Paul Pierce scored a game-high 23 points and Jeff Green added 16 points off the bench as the Boston Celtics held on for a 98-93 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Utah's Al Jefferson nailed a jumper with 1:56 to play to tie the game at 93-93, but the Jazz were unable to convert on their next six shots and the Celtics escaped with the win.
Following Jefferson's jumper, the teams traded missed baskets. Boston then worked the ball in to Kevin Garnett, who was fouled but converted just one of the free throws.
Mo Williams then fired up a deep jumper that missed, and Gordon Hayward couldn't convert the tip-in and Utah was forced to foul Pierce, who buried a pair from the charity stripe to give Boston a 96-93 lead.
Paul Millsap missed a layup on the ensuing possession and Green corralled the rebound, but couldn't keep his feet planted and turned it over on a traveling violation.
The Jazz then threw it in to Jefferson, who handed it off to Williams for a deep 3-pointer that bounced off the rim. Garnett controlled the rebound and was quickly fouled with 6.9 seconds remaining.
Garnett converted the subsequent free throws to account for the final margin.
"They outran us in the first half. Second half we got back. Wasn't any adjustment," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I just told the guys, 'You know after you score, you can't do your home run jog and wave at everybody. They're coming right back at you.' And I thought we got caught off-guard in the first half with that, and the second half we were terrific."
Celtics' point guard Rajon Rondo extended his streak of games with 10 or more assists to 32 despite leaving the contest in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Rondo briefly went to the locker room before returning to the bench, but did not re-enter the game.
"I have no idea. With sprained ankles, tomorrow you'll know more," Rivers said of Rondo's chances for playing Thursday.
Millsap and Jefferson each notched double-doubles for Utah, with Millsap scoring 20 points with 12 rebounds and Jefferson netting 13 points while pulling down 14 boards. Hayward, Derrick Favors and Williams each scored 14 points for the Jazz, who had won two in a row entering the game.
"I'm proud of the way our guys fought. I thought we hung in there gave ourselves a chance to win, we had the chance to take the one point lead there, had a good executed play had a good look at it but missed a shot but the guys did a really good job at fighting for everything they got," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
Utah held a 25-20 lead after the first quarter after shooting 50 percent from the field in the period. Millsap poured in eight points in the frame and Williams added seven for the Jazz.
Boston was able to cut it to 46-44 at the break. The Celtics led by as many as five in the second quarter, but the Jazz closed the half on a 7-0 run sparked by a Marvin Williams 3-ball with 48 seconds left.
The game was knotted up at 60-60 with five minutes left in the third, but an 8-0 burst from the Celtics gave Boston a 68-60 lead at the 3:20 mark.
Utah, however, cut it to 73-70 at the end of the period on the strength of 10-5 run started by a Hayward 3-pointer and ended with a Mo Williams triple.
Boston is 3-0 since inserting Jason Terry and Brandon Bass into the starting lineup ... The Celtics have won four in a row and 11 of the last 16 meetings with the Jazz, now losers in five straight trips to Beantown.