Williams, Jazz end Celtics' 10-game winning streakMar 15, 2008 - 4:48 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
BOSTON (Ticker) - Lady luck ran out on the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
In a potential NBA Finals preview, Deron Williams hit a devastating 3-pointer late and finished with 32 points and Carlos Boozer added 17 and 12 rebounds as the Utah Jazz snapped the Celtics' 10-game winning streak with a 110-92 victory.
The contest before a raucous sellout crowd at TD Banknorth Garden was a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the NBA. In addition to Boston's 10-game winning streak, Utah (44-23) came into Friday's contest having won six of its last seven.
Kevin Garnett scored 15 points to lead Boston (51-13), which lost at home for the first time in 12 games, dating back to a January 23 loss to Toronto.
Despite the loss, the Celtics still managed to become the NBA's first division-winner by clinching the Atlantic Division crown due to Toronto's blowout loss at Denver.
"I could tell right off the bat, energy-wise, we weren't our normal selves," Garnett said. "Last couple of games, we were kind of spoiled off the fact that we came out with really good energy and for some reason tonight, we just didn't. Against a team like Utah, we just couldn't get oiled up and ready to go from the jump."
In their last home game before a five-game road trip, the Celtics broke out their special green uniforms in advance of St. Patrick's Day.
Early on, the breaks went against Boston as All-Star Ray Allen jammed his left ankle when he landed awkwardly after slipping on a first-quarter drive to the basket. He did not return, finished with nine points and was replaced by Tony Allen.
"I knew it was (Allen's) heel," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "That's really all I know right now. (Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte) told me early on he wouldn't be back. This is a tough blow, especially going out on a trip. I'm hoping he's healthy for that. But I'm not going to change my rules. He's going to have to be extremely healthy for me to play him."
The Jazz were looking to exact a measure of revenge on the Celtics, who handed them their last home loss, 104-98, on December 29. Utah has won 18 straight at home since that setback but were just 15-20 on the road before Friday's game.
"I was definitely looking forward to this game," Williams said. "They were the last team to beat us at home, and we only have three losses at home and they were one of the teams. So, we definitely wanted to avenge that. It was just a great team victory. Everyone played well, everyone stepped up, defensively and offensively."
The Jazz used red-hot shooting in the first half in an attempt to turn that around. Utah, the best shooting team in the NBA, made 21-of-36 shots in the first half and took a 62-49 lead to the locker room.
"They just kicked our butt," Rivers said. "I thought early in the game, you have a 50-50 chance to get to every loose ball, and it was about 98-2 in percentage (in Utah's favor). They played harder, more aggressive. They were more physical and tougher and they beat us. It doesn't happen often but it happened."
Mehmet Okur's 3-point with 8:56 left in the first put the visitors ahead, 9-8, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Jazz enjoyed another bit of good fortune when Andrei Kirilenko's off-balance sideways-spinning shot fell with 6:00 remaining in the third, putting Utah ahead, 70-59.
But the Celtics went on a 9-2 run to cut the Jazz's lead to 72-68 on Garnett's layup with 3:48 remaining in the third.
Leading, 79-74, heading into the fourth, Utah built its lead back up to nine at 87-78 on a consecutive reverse layups by Matt Harpring and Okur with over nine minutes remaining.
"I've got a young team and they've got to learn how to play under those conditions," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "That's why I was proud of the fact they held their composure."
Boston responded and sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy in the process when Eddie House drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing and Garnett hit a mid-range 14-foot jumper with 8:09 left.
"They got knocked down a few times, but they held their composure and stayed with what we wanted to try to do," Sloan said. "And that's something we've had some problems with in the past, and it's a sign of a team maturing and becoming a little better under those conditions."
BOSTON 92 FINAL
Mar 14 10:03 PM
BOSTON 74 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 14 9:28 PM
BOSTON 49 HALFTIME
Mar 14 8:45 PM
BOSTON 23 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 14 8:08 PM
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