For the first time in his career, Gordon Hayward played against Utah in Salt Lake City. And his debut as a Celtic in Vivint Smart Home Arena didn’t go well, as Jazzers defeated Boston 123-115.
But that wasn’t the only bad thing which happened to him that night. The 28-year-old from Indianapolis was booed before, and during the match. It seems that he isn’t welcomed anymore in Utah.
“No, not at all man, I’ve kind of expected something of that. It’s just part of the game.” Hayward told the media after the game, when he was asked if he is surprised about the fans cold welcome.
Hayward booed heavily during starting lineups. pic.twitter.com/Oy2ugnKBC0
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 10, 2018
Despite that, he was eager to see his old friends.
“More than anything, I was looking forward to seeing [people]. I spent seven years here so I built some great relationships and was looking forward to seeing some of those people
He spent seven years in Utah, where he became one of the best players in the league, earning an All-Star invitation in 2017, when the Jazzers finally reached the playoff spot after a while. Hayward finished last night’s game with 13 points and 7 assists in 26 minutes on the court.
Joe Ingles was inspired to see his old friend and dropped 27 points, 20 in the first half. He was the initial spark in Utah, and his three downtown bombs at the end of the second quarter provided a 58-51 lead for the hosts at the break. It was just an introduction to Jazzers 17-6 run at the start of the third period. Not too long after that, they were up 20. And everybody expected to see a routine closure of this match.
But the Celtics didn’t want to go down without a fight. The managed to come back with a 15-4 run in the last quarter, and all of a sudden, it was just four points for the hosts, 100-96, after Rozier made a three-pointer.
Eventually, Utah tightened up their defense which forced the guests to miss a couple of layups, and after Jay Crowder’s three-pointer from the corner for 117-109, with 47.7 seconds before the end, everything was decided. The strong forward got his piece of revenge on his former club who traded him last season.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” Crowder said. “We needed everybody in the arena.” He ended this one with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Brad Stevens said kind words about his former player, explaining to the media his impact on Utah, and his qualities.
“From what I see from afar his best start of the season. He seems really comfortable, he’s in a great system, he fits exactly what Quin wants to do. He can play off the bounce, play as a stretch four, play a number of positions. ” Stevens told the reporters.
In Utah Donovan Mitchell added 21 points, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert had 17 each. The Spanish point guard had 7 assists and 6 rebounds, while Gobert added 15 rebounds and two blocked shots. He was a decisive figure in defense at the end of the fourth quarter.
Kyrie Irving didn’t play last night, and Terry Rozier filled in his spot perfectly. Scary Terry scored 22 points, also having 6 rebounds. Jayson Tatum added 21, and Marcus Morris delivered 16. It was the third loss in four games for the Eastern Conference finalists from the previous year. They have one more game on this Western tour, against Portland in Moda Center on Sunday night, after which they travel back to Massachusetts. Steven’s team will then have the opportunity to improve his record with several home games against not so tough opponents. At the moment, Celtics are 5th in East with 7-5.
Up next, the Jazzers have five-game tour away from home. They will face Memphis, Dallas, Philadelphia, Celtics again and in the end Indiana Pacers. With 6-6 they are 9th in West, and what is odd, they are producing much better performances on the road (4-2) than in Salt Lake City (2-4).
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.