Utah has dropped five of its last six games on the road, including Wednesday’s 87-74 setback at New Jersey.
The teams combined to score just 22 points in the first quarter—the second-lowest point total in NBA history for an opening period. The record low is 18 by Fort Wayne and Syracuse on Nov. 29, 1956
“That was ugly,” said Utah forward Matt Harpring, who scored 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting. “Ugly for both teams.”
Much of Utah’s inability to generate consistency on offense was due to sloppy and lethargic play, according to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
“We were walking up the floor,” said Sloan, whose team made just nine layups and committed 21 turnovers. “You’ve got to push the ball up the floor and move your body so you can get into a rhythm. We couldn’t seem to do that. We were pushing the ball—but into the fans’ laps most of the time.”
Boston ruined ex-Celtic Antoine Walker’s homecoming Wednesday, outlasting their former co-captain and his Dallas teammates 105-103.
Walker scored just seven points and missed all six 3-pointers in his first game against the Celtics since they traded him to the Mavericks on Oct. 20.
Paul Pierce scored 25 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and had 11 rebounds and seven assists for Boston. He also hit the go-ahead jumper over Walker with 20 seconds to play.
Walter McCarty added 18 points in his first start of the season after asking coach Jim O’Brien for more playing time just before the game.
“I said, `Well, perform tonight, because you’re starting,”’ O’Brien said.
Ricky Davis made his Boston debut after coming over in a six-player trade with Cleveland on Monday. He scored eight points.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 17): Jazz - 7th place, 3 GB, Midwest Division. Celtics - 2nd place (tied), 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Jazz - Harpring, 17 ppg; Ostertag, 8.8 rpg; Arroyo, 6.1 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 24 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 5.8 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 8; Celtics, 102-80. At Utah, James had 18 points and nine assists as the Celtics beat the Jazz for just the second time in their last 14 visits to Utah.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Jazz - 2-9 on the road; Celtics - 7-7 at home.
INJURIES: Jazz - F Keon Clark (ankle); F Michael Ruffin (abdomen); C Curtis Borchardt (wrist). Celtics - F Brandon Hunter (Achilles’); F Chris Mills (heel); C Kendrick Perkins (knee); F Raef LaFrentz (knee).