The Utah Jazz already got a hearty helping of revenge against the green-clad Eastern Conference foe and the turncoat Gordon Hayward.
But seconds are always nice.
Utah outscored Boston 27-17 in the third quarter to complement a 29-20 first quarter advantage and giving the Jazz a 98-86 win over the Celtics.
This win couldn’t have come at a better time for Utah. Sure, the Celtics are also experiencing their own struggles to start the year, but Utah’s losses — ugly ones — have been piling up, contrary to what the team and fans expected in early October.
Some issues remain, such as the 10 missed free throws (the Jazz went 17 of 27 from the charity stripe, or 63.0 percent), but for now, the Jazz can enjoy their sixth road win of the season on a night that everyone had circled on the calendar.
Donovan Mitchell led the team in scoring with 28, and this time he didn’t have to apologize for taking so many shots (21) as he also added six assists — tied with Joe Ingles for most on the team.
The second-year wing discussed his game with the sideline reporter moments after the final whistle, talking about what this performance meant in comparison to his 35-shot zero assist game against the 76ers.
“I think just the way I came out in this game meant a little bit more to me,” Mitchell said. “I just kind of stomped the floor a little bit just to kind of get all of that out of my head and out of the way.”
Mitchell’s response was a bit of a dodge as he was pressed about a particular play in the fourth quarter.
With just over nine minutes left in the game and the Jazz up by 19, Hayward went up for a two-handed slam in transition but was rejected by none other than the Spida himself. Mitchell later said he “didn’t know if I was going to be on ESPN getting dunked on or blocking the shot” while the play happened.
Hayward managed just seven points on the night in 26 minutes of play and had a plus-minus of -11.
If the Jazz hadn’t already cast aside recent storylines with this 12-point win, Ricky Rubio threw them off even more. Rubio, currently the center of a heated fan/media debate over his status as starting point guard, finished with a solid 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting (2 of 4 from three). The other half of that debate, backup point guard Dante Exum, played 20 minutes and finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Performances like these from The Spanish Samurai are what earned him renown last year with their absence being his main problem this season. We’ll see if this is a trend starter or a flash in the pan.
With the win Saturday, the Jazz have evened up their record at 8-8, marking the third time the team has climbed out of the losing record hole in 2018-19. Unfortunately, this might become more common in the coming weeks — Utah clawing back from a sub-.500 record — as six of the next eight games the team will play are on the road.