Utah Jazz: Celtics spoil home debuts of new players

Published: Tuesday, March 1 2011 12:12 a.m. MST

Jazz-Celtics boxscore

SALT LAKE CITY — Rookie Derrick Favors came away from his first Utah experience as a Jazz player a bit wowed about the EnergySolutions Arena atmosphere.

"The crowd," he said, "it's crazy."

Though he thought there were too many Boston Celtics fans in the building, Jazz newcomer and NBA veteran Devin Harris also came away with a favorable first impression of his new avid and audible supporters.

"They were great," he said.

Wait until the New Jersey transplants hear how the place explodes when the home team actually wins.

Despite a gutsy outing by the struggling Jazz and what Harris described as a "monster" game by center Al Jefferson, the visiting Celtics spoiled the home debuts of Utah hoop fans' new favorite players with an entertaining 107-102 victory.

"It was a good game," Harris said. "I thought we fought hard, especially after that big first quarter that (the Celtics) had. We've just got to be a little bit better defensively down the stretch."

Harris played a big role in helping the Jazz bounce back from an early 13-point hole and a 30-21 deficit after the first quarter.

In his third game with Utah, the Jazz's starting point guard scored 19 points — including several bursts to the basket for buckets — and dished out five assists.

But it was Jefferson who played the biggest role in the turnaround as Big Al continued his red-hot ways by putting up huge numbers — 28 points and 19 rebounds — in leading the Jazz's charge.

Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points, Paul Millsap added 17 and Favors chipped in nine off the bench to spark Utah's comeback bid.

Favors' introduction to the Utah crowd included a pair of powerful putback dunks in the fourth quarter that not only gave the Jazz a one-point lead but also had to have made fans giddy with excitement about his potential.

And likewise.

"The crowd and atmosphere, it was just crazy out there. I wasn't used to that. It's very different in New Jersey," said Favors, who was picked by the Nets third overall in last summer's NBA Draft. "They've got a great crowd, a great fanbase (here), and I think that's what kept us in the game. It kept me going."

Unfortunately for Utah, Boston's wide array of weapons kept the Celtics going despite the surge by the Jazz.

Ray Allen (25 points), Paul Peirce (21 points) and Rajon Rondo (18 points, 11 assists) each made clutch plays down the stretch. Late pressure jump shots by Allen and Rondo were especially fatal to Utah's upset hopes in the final minute.

"They're a top team in the East for a reason," Harris said of the 43-15 Celtics. "They always have an answer. You have to knock them dead. They're not going to give us the game. We've got to go out and take it."

Though his team lost for the 16th time in the past 21 games, Jazz coach Ty Corbin came away with a positive feeling about his squad.

"I can't be disappointed in the effort," said Corbin, whose Jazz fell to 32-29. "They did a great job coming out and laying it on the line. It's a good ballclub in Boston. We played hard but we didn't play particularly smart in some situations down the stretch."

The Jazz were still within striking distance of pulling off the shocker late, trailing 101-99 after a three-point play by Millsap.

But Allen, who helped Boston overcome an early eight-point lead by nailing three first-quarter 3-pointers during a 25-4 spurt, took a pass and swished an off-balanced 23-foot shot with 53.5 seconds remaining.

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