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The Boston Celtics won their third straight, and fifth in six games, with a 98-93 win against the Utah Jazz at the TD Garden. Paul Pierce led the way for the C’s with a game-high 23 points, 15 of them in the 3rd quarter, and three field goals from beyond the arc.
Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa each had 16 points off the bench and went a combined 11-of-17 from the field. With just over seven minutes left in the game, Green made a play for the highlight reel. After a pump fake in the corner, Green drove to the basket and posterized former Celtic Al Jefferson with a one-handed slam that erupted the Garden and even had Rondo jumping for joy (on one leg). Green picked up a technical foul for staring down Big Al, but it was a much deserved stare-down. Chris Wilcox chipped in 7 points and 5 rebounds in huge minutes for the Celtics. He also finished a fast break alley-oop from Rondo.
Utah’s three bigs, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors, out rebounded the Celtics 35-33, and also had a combined 12 offensive boards. They finished with 13 and 14, 20 and 12, and 14 and 9 respectively.
With 4:55 left in the 3rd quarter, Rajon Rondo sprained his right ankle while planting before a layup. He left the game and did not play again in the game, but his return was not ruled out and he was sitting on the bench after a quick trip to get taped up in the locker room. Barbosa played well in the absence of Rondo, which led to head coach Doc Rivers leaving him in and not risking further injury to Rondo. Rondo finished with six points and 10 assists to extend his double digit assist streak to 32 games. It is unknown whether he will play tonight against the Nets.
Former Celtic Al Jefferson still has not beaten his former club with a combined record of 0-10 with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz since being traded in 2007. He will have to wait until February 25th to get another crack at the Celts.
The Celtics will continue their stretch of 7 games in 10 days (3-1 so far) against the new look Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. Tip-off is a little after 8pm Thursday on TNT.