Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points apiece off the bench while Paul Pierce led all Celtics with 23 as the Celtics beat the Jazz, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden. The biggest news of the night however came with just under five minutes left in the third when Rajon Rondo landed awkwardly under the basket on a drive and rolled his right ankle. He came out of the game and did not return. He finished with six points and 10 assists, extending his double-digit assist streak to 32 games.
The Celtics won their third straight and improved to 5-3 on the season despite being outrebounded, 48-33. Rondo scored six points but did not register an assist during 11 minutes of action in the opening quarter. The Jazz, who won in triple-overtime on Monday in Toronto, showed no signs of fatigue as they dominated the Celtics on the glass, taking a 25-20 lead after one.
The Celtics opened the second quarter 14-6 run as Rondo got the Celtics on track with an alley-oop pass to Kevin Garnett, which resulted in a thunderous one-handed Tomahawk jam. Rondo then fed Garnett's replacement - Chris Wilcox - for two more alley-oop feeds as the Celtics found rhythm in transition. But, with the Celtics leading 44-39, the Jazz went on a 7-0 run to end the half and take a 46-44 lead at the break.
Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter as the Celtics came to life once again. But the biggest news came with 4:55 left in the quarter when Rondo drove to the basket and landed awkwardly on his right ankle. He went down on the far sideline immediately before hobbling to his feet and limping over to the Celtics bench. Moments later he headed to the Celtics locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte and returned to the bench with a minute left in the third.
In Rondo's absence, Barbosa took over. He handled the ball and ran the offense with Courtney Lee serving as his running mate in the backcourt. Jeff Green sent another charge through the crowd with a one-handed slam in the face of Al Jefferson with six minutes left to put the Celtics up, 84-78. Green finished the dunk with a stare down that earned him a friendly tap from Jefferson and a technical from the officials.
The Jazz responded with a pair of threes to stay close. Garnett was poked in the left eye by Derrick Favors as the Celtics could not pull away. Jefferson tied the game, 93-93, with 1:56 left and then Paul Pierce missed a left-handed layup moments later. Garnett hit a free throw with 1:08 left to put Boston up, 94-93. After Mo Williams missed a shot, Pierce hit a pair of free throws with 19.5 seconds left to put Boston up, 96-93.
The Celtics hit the road again for a game in Brooklyn Thursday night, taking on the Nets at Barclays Center, before returning for a home game Saturday afternoon against the Raptors. For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics and the Green Street blog.
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