x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Celtics’ Brad Stevens gets first NBA coaching victory, will savour it ‘for a whole 12 minutes’

The first-year Boston head coach said, "I'm going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes, and then I'm going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out," after Wednesday's 97-87 win over Utah.

At 37 years old, Brad Stevens is the youngest coach in the NBA. Jared Wickerham / AFP / Getty Images
At 37 years old, Brad Stevens is the youngest coach in the NBA. Jared Wickerham / AFP / Getty Images

BOSTON, Massachusetts // Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck went onto the court right after the final buzzer sounded to pull aside the game ball for coach Brad Stevens.

It took five games, but the Celtics finally helped Stevens earn his first NBA victory.

“I’m going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes, and then I’m going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out,” the first-year Celtics coach said after Boston beat the Utah Jazz, one of the league’s other winless teams, 97-87 on Wednesday night.

Brandon Bass scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 18 to lead Boston to their first win of the season. The game reunited Stevens, the former Butler coach, with Gordon Hayward, the Bulldogs star who took them to the 2010 NCAA championship game against Duke and just missed a shot from inside half court that would have won it.

“We exchanged greetings before the game,” said Hayward, who had 28 points and nine rebounds. “But being the competitors we are, we both wanted to win the basketball game.”

Now one of the two remaining winless teams in the NBA this season along with the Denver Nuggets, Utah trailed by 25 points in the third quarter and opened the fourth down 22 before scoring 17 of the next 20 points. Hayward had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz never got closer than six points.

“He’s a lot better than when I coached him. And he was pretty good when I coached him,” Stevens said. “I was there when he was a puppy. But I wish he would have backed off a little at the end.”

The attendance of 17,130 was about 1,500 fans short of a sellout, ending a streak of 289 games dating to the end of the 2006-07 season. That was the last game before the Celtics brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce.

The trio helped Boston win the 2008 NBA title and took the Celtics back to the finals two years later. But the team was dismantled this summer when Garnett and Pierce were traded to the Brooklyn Nets and coach Doc Rivers left for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stevens, who guided Butler to consecutive NCAA championship games, took over the Celtics – his first NBA experience as a coach or player. The rebuilding Celtics lost their first four games, including last week’s home opener in which they blew a 22-point lead.

But the Celtics held on in Stevens’ second game in front of the home crowd, thanks largely to a second quarter in which they outscored Utah 27-8 and turned a three-point deficit into a double-digit lead.

“Eight points in the second quarter. Eight points in the second quarter,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “That’s where we lost the game right there.”

Gerald Wallace had nine points and nine rebounds for Boston.

Derrick Favors had 10 points and 14 rebounds and Enes Kanter scored 22 points with eight boards for the Jazz, who open a season with five straight losses for the first time since 1974, when they were still in New Orleans.

“It’s a long year,” said Corbin, whose team goes to Chicago and Toronto. “We’re in a bad stretch right now, losing five games in a row. You’ve got two more tough ones on this road trip and you’re still shorthanded. But you know what, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”

The Jazz opened a 16-3 lead in the first 5 minutes but Boston scored the next seven points and cut it to 26-23 by the end of the quarter. The Celtics made the first four baskets of the second to take the lead, and they scored 12 consecutive points at the end of the half to take a 16-point lead.

“You had two hungry teams that needed a win. We got off to,” a fast start, Utah forward Richard Jefferson said. “But we didn’t come out in the second quarter.”

It was 70-45 midway through the third quarter and 84-62 heading into the fourth before the Celtics missed eight of their next nine shots. Kanter made a layup to cut it to 89-83, but Bass made a jumper and Jared Sullinger made a baby hook with 3:16 to play to make it 93-83.

OTHER RESULTS

Warriors 106, Timberwolves 93

Blossoming Golden State superstar guard Stephen Curry struggled with his shot, a hurting knee and sore foot, but backcourt mate Klay Thompson carried the Warriors to a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thompson, a shooting guard, scored 19 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter on a night when Curry hobbled off with a banged knee early in the third quarter and then left the game for good in the final minutes because of a bone bruise in his left foot.

Kevin Love had 25 points and 16 rebounds for the Wolves, but Thompson’s explosive finish pushed the Warriors’ lead from five late in the third quarter to as many as 18 in the final minutes as Golden State (4-1) pulled away from Minnesota (3-2).

Pacers 97, Bulls 80

Forward Paul George scored 21 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls and remain the NBA’s only undefeated team.

George made just six of 19 shots from the field, but he had six rebounds and played excellent defence against Bulls guard Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter as Rose scored 17 but shot just 1-for-6 in the second half.

Forward David West added 17 points and 13 rebounds and guard Lance Stephenson scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Pacers (5-0).

Pelicans 99, Grizzlies 84

Anthony Davis tallied 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks as New Orleans built a 22-point lead through three quarters and ran away.

Memphis point guard Mike Conley had a game-high 26 points while power forward Zach Randolph left the arena in the first half to be with his fiancée, who was in labor.

Magic 98, Clippers 90

Center Nikola Vucevic had 30 points and 21 rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic to victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

After the Magic (3-2) let a 19-point lead slip away in the third quarter, late back-to-back baskets by Arron Afflalo and Vucevic gave the Magic a 92-89 lead they never lost.

Forward Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 23 points and 13 rebounds as they had their three-game win streak snapped.

Spurs 99, Suns 96

Point guard Tony Parker scored 20 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the Phoenix Suns.

Forward Miles Plumlee’s reverse layup gave the Suns a 96-95 lead with less than a minute remaining. Parker raced down the court and hit a jump shot with 31 seconds left.

The Suns had two late three-point attempts but misfired.

Wizards 116, 76ers 102

Point guard John Wall sank a career-high five 3-pointers and scored 24 points as the hot-shooting Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers to earn their first victory of the season.

Center Marcin Gortat added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards (1-3), who made a season-high 18 3-pointers. Wall also handed out nine assists to help hand the 76ers a second straight loss.

Bucks 109, Cavaliers 104

Guard OJ Mayo scored a season-best 28 points as the Milwaukee Bucks held off the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 29 for Cleveland but could not lead a final-quarter comeback.

Bobcats 92, Raptors 90

Guard Gerald Henderson scored a season-high 23 points and the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Toronto Raptors for their second win in two nights.

The Bobcats built a 16-point lead in the first half but could never put the Raptors away and they wound up needing a key defensive stop in the final 25 seconds to hold on.

Thunder 107, Mavericks 93

Oklahoma City’s prolific pair of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 55 points on 17-for-36 shooting to lead the Thunder over the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant added 10 assists and forward Serge Ibaka contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City (3-1).

Monta Ellis led Dallas scorers with 20 points while Dirk Nowitzki chipped in 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.