The Boston Celtics are in a slump. On Tuesday night, the team suffered a 122-108 defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz, marking the eighth loss over their last 12 games and ending a grueling West Coast road trip with a record of 2-3.
After missing each of the past two games with a knee injury, guard Jaylen Brown quickly reminded everyone why he is a shoo-in All-Star selection this season. Brown scored the Celtics’ first nine points in Utah, all from beyond the arc, leading Boston to a mere one-point deficit entering halftime. However, things quickly went downhill for the Cs from that point on.
Boston’s defense seemingly vanished in the second half, as the Jazz erupted for 72 points over the final 24 minutes of play, including a 17-7 run to close out the final five minutes of regulation.
The Celtics’ late-game shortcomings did not sit well with Brown.
“We f****** should take it personally,” Brown said in his postgame video conference. “The fourth quarter was embarrassing. That’s the time when we’re supposed to be our grittiest and it seems like we just fell apart.”
The team faltering down the stretch has become somewhat of a regularity of late. Boston has now lost seven of its last nine matchups when there is a five-point differential or less with five minutes or fewer to play (h/t Yahoo Sports).
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Brown Shoulders Blame
Brown ended the night with a team-high 33 points, clearly serving as Boston’s top-option offensively. However, it was his counterpart, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who put his team on his back over the final minutes. Mitchell knocked down three pivotal 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help seal Utah’s 20th victory of the season.
Brown, serving as the leader he is, shouldered blame for Boston’s late-game struggles.
“In a sense, that’s a lack of toughness and that’s a lack of leadership,” Brown said. “A lot of that is on me. As a leader of this team, I take responsibility for how we respond and how we come out in that fourth quarter. It just wasn’t there for us.”
Yet, that didn’t stop Brown from giving Utah their props.
“They’ve got the best record in the league and it showed,” Brown said of the Jazz. “The way they played, the freedom, the flow they have to their team is really good right now, and we’ve got to find a better flow for ourselves. We had some disconnectedness at times and the game almost seems a little harder than it should be. If we just trust each other, we’re in the right spots, and things like that, the game will be a lot easier than it has been for us.”
Brown Opens Up About Knee Injury
While his stat line may not attest to it, some of Boston’s struggles in the second-half could relate to Brown’s lingering knee issue.
“It definitely felt better in the first half. In the second half, the third quarter, I had a stretch where it was bothering me a little bit. It’s something to stay on top of,” Brown said. “It’s moving in the right direction. I’m looking forward to staying on the court and being there for our team. We need some wins right now.”
The Celtics will look to put their West Coast road trip behind them and revert back to their winning ways on Thursday night when they return to TD Garden to faceoff with the Toronto Raptors.
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