NBA Game Summary - Utah at Boston
(Friday, December 17th)
Final Score: Boston 114, Utah 106
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Gary Payton scored a season-high 27 points with 11 assists and six rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to a 114-106 victory over Utah at the FleetCenter.
Mark Blount added 18 points and Paul Pierce scored 13 with seven assists for the Celtics, who have won three of four on the heels of a three-game slide. Seven Boston players scored in double figures.
"Great, great win," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said. "Taking care of the home court -- that's what we've got to keep talking about whenever we play here...it would be nice to get a rhythm."
The Celtics improved to 6-5 at home.
Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the reeling Jazz, who have dropped nine of 11. Mehmet Okur added 21 points in the loss and Carlos Arroyo had 20 in 27 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics led comfortably throughout.
Their lead was already in double digits seven minutes into the game, and it reached as high as 17 in the first quarter when Pierce's free throw made it 29-12 inside the 2:00 mark. The Celtics then carried a 29-17 advantage into the second.
Utah later used a 17-7 burst to trim a 19-point deficit to nine points, pulling within 45-36 on a Matt Harpring bucket with 3:00 left in the first half. But Boston responded with an 11-1 run to restore the 19-point margin and it carried a 58-40 cushion into the break.
The Celtics shot 56 percent in the first half to Utah's 35 percent, and Payton led all players with 18 points.
"Gary Payton was the dominant player tonight," Rivers said. "He was awesome."
Boston ended the game shooting 55 percent and its lead reached a game-high 21 points late in the third quarter when Marcus Banks drained a pair of free throws to make it 84-63 with 1:30 remaining.
The Celtics carried an 86-67 advantage into the fourth quarter. The Jazz later whittled their deficit to eight points with a 10-3 burst that pulled them within 97-89 with four minutes to play in the game.
But Boston battled to keep its lead in double digits and never let Utah get closer than eight points.
"The Celtics were just much more interested in doing the right things than we were," Utah head coach Jerry Sloan said.
Utah has lost six straight on the road and last won away from home on November 20 in Atlanta...Raja Bell added 17 points for the Jazz...Boston outscored Utah 56-38 in the paint...The Celtics faced their seventh straight Western Conference opponent. That streak will end at Cleveland on Saturday night.
12/17 23:13:13 ET