Everybody is talking about the schedule that we’ve got coming up and we might be undermanned or whatever but we were going to come in and fight and give ourselves a chance to win and that was what happened tonight. —Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood
BOSTON — Not even two minutes into Friday’s game at TD Garden, a sellout crowd of 18,624 fans grew silent.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert fell to the ground in a scary manner after clashing with teammate Derrick Favors.
The All-NBA center tried to jump up quick but dropped to the floor immediately before limping off to the locker room with a left knee injury.
Having already missed 11 games with a right tibia contusion after colliding with Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters, his teammates crowded around him with concern as he was forced to call it a night.
Then, during the second quarter, Favors left the game and also wouldn’t return after being elbowed in the head by Celtics guard Jaylen Brown. He avoided a concussion but did receive six stitches over his left eye.
Even without the starting frontcourt available for the entire second half, Utah snapped its four-game losing skid against the top-ranked Boston Celtics, 107-95.
Utah was able to win at Boston for the first time since March 14, 2008, with former Jazzman Gordon Hayward in attendance.
“It was a good team effort. We needed this one to boost our morale,” said Jazz guard Rodney Hood, who ended with 17 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. “We don’t got nothing to lose.
“Everybody is talking about the schedule that we’ve got coming up and we might be undermanned or whatever but we were going to come in and fight and give ourselves a chance to win and that was what happened tonight.”
Ricky Rubio led the charge with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists despite fouling out with 1:05 remaining in the fourth. Rubio caught fire in the third, going off for 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting in one of his best offensive games in a while.
“It felt good to be out there, making shots and moving the ball well,” Rubio said. “We were passing the ball really well to the open guy and we kept attacking them and we knew that they were good defenders but they didn’t have a rim protector.”
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell continued his strong play, posting 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, along with nine points and five rebounds. He has emerged as Utah’s go-to player down the stretch as his confidence continues to grow.
Celtics star Kyrie Irving’s 33 points and six assists weren’t enough to lift the squad as they were held to just 40.7 percent from the field. Al Horford also finished with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Ekpe Udoh was another spark off the bench for Utah, although his numbers weren’t eye-popping with five points and nine boards as he filled in for Gobert and Favors.
“It was an excellent effort and we managed to continue to try to do the things we felt we had to do to win the game, no matter who was out there,” Snyder said. “Obviously Ekpe (Udoh), with Derrick (Favors) and Rudy (Gobert) out, did a terrific job.”
Joe Johnson returned from a 21-game absence with a wrist injury to play 14 minutes, shooting 1-for-3 with three points and three boards, while former Celtic Jonas Jerebko relished the opportunity to be back in Boston. He went off for 17 points and seven rebounds in front of familiar faces in the stands and an extra pep in his step.
“I was more fired up than I usually am but other than that it just felt good to be out there,” Jerebko said.
Although the win was huge, Utah (14-15) won’t get much time to celebrate as the Cleveland Cavaliers are waiting to host them at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night. Snyder refuses to let guys get too high or too low, but he was pleased with the overall effort.
“This group has got character and they’re going to compete no matter the circumstances and they did,” Snyder said.