Donovan Mitchell outdueled Jaylen Brown, and Rudy Gobert had another strong showing as the red-hot Utah Jazz held on to defeat the Boston Celtics 122-108 Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
Mitchell hit three of his six 3-pointers in the final minutes and finished with 36 points and nine assists to lead the Jazz to their fifth straight win and 16th victory in 17 games.
Utah tied its best-ever start to a season by improving to an NBA-leading 20-5, which was also the record the franchise’s first NBA Finals squad jumped out to at the beginning of the 1996-97 season.
Brown returned from a two-game injury absence to score 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum added 23 points for Boston, which went 2-3 on a five-game Western Conference road trip.
Along with playing stellar defense, Gobert scored 18 points to go with his 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Utah’s Joe Ingles scored 24 points, Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points and Jordan Clarkson shook off an 0-for-6 start from beyond the arc to finish with 13 points and two 3-pointers.
The Jazz blew the game open in the final three minutes, using a Mitchell-sparked 7-0 run to put some distance between them and the Celtics after Boston pulled within four. During one stretch in the waning moments, Mitchell scored 10 of the Jazz’s 13 points and assisted on the other 3-pointer, one of five Ingles treys.
Both teams were missing key players. Utah’s Mike Conley sat out his second straight game with a strained hamstring while Boston’s Marcus Smart was sidelined for the fifth time in a row with a torn calf.
Brown returned from his absence with a vengeance, exploding for 20 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Celtics went into the second quarter ahead 27-24, but Utah flipped the lead with an 8-0 run and held a one-point halftime advantage.
The Jazz exploded for a 42-32 advantage in the third quarter to seize control of the game while building a lead as big as 14 points.