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Boston • Four nights ago, Isaiah Thomas scored 52 points against the Miami Heat, one of the highest individual scoring games of the NBA season.
He didn't score half a hundred against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. One could make the argument Thomas did more damage to the Jazz than he did to the Heat.
In a 115-104 win over Utah before a sellout crowd at TD Garden, Thomas scored a game-high 29 points and also dropped a career-high 15 assists. It was a combination the Jazz couldn't overcome on this night, with starting point guard George Hill sitting out the game with a concussion.
"He did it in all kinds of ways," Utah coach Quin Snyder said of Thomas. "The best plays he made, and the most impactful, were when he got to the rim and he'd go up and find people. He was finding people everywhere."
Thomas got into the paint seemingly at will off the dribble, either scoring or finding open players along the perimeter. As a result, Boston found itself with wide open jumpers and they converted, shooting 17 of 31 from 3-point range.
"Defense was an issue," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "I think from the beginning there were a lot of defensive breakdowns. We spotted them 10 early points and it just kind of went from there. The wide open three's ... a good team is going to make a good percentage of those shots."
Tuesday night was going to be a difficult ask for the Jazz (22-14) regardless. They had won the night before in Brooklyn, while the Celtics had rested for three days. Utah tried its best to make things competitive as Joe Johnson caught fire in the fourth quarter, twice pulling the Jazz within eight points and finishing with 17 points off the bench.
But this was a game in which Boston shot 55 percent from the field and 55 percent from 3-point range. They made 16 of 17 free throws and forced the Jazz into 46 percent shooting overall. That's why the game was only close for sporadic moments.
Boston's lead at its apex was 17 points in the second half. There were four lead changes, all in the first half, and Utah's biggest advantage was one point. To make things even worse for Jazz fans, the Celtics crowd serenaded Hayward all night in an obvious eye toward Hayward's imminent free agent status.
"I think the way the teams are defending, we want to get layups," Celtics center Al Horford said. "But we look for those three's and especially the open ones. In this league, you have to be able to shoot the three-ball."
Tuesday's loss snaps Utah's four-game winning streak. Hayward led the Jazz with 23 points and Boris Diaw scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Derrick Favors scored 12 points, handed out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds.
R The Jazz allow the Celtics to score at least 26 points in each quarter.
• The starting backcourt of Shelvin Mack and Rodney Hood shoot a combined 6 of 20 from the field.
• The Jazz fall to 1-1 on the current five-game road trip.