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Jazz seek to break hex against Irving's Celtics

BOSTON -- Way back on March 14, 2008, the Utah Jazz walked into TD Garden and hammered the Celtics 110-92, dropping Boston's record to 51-13 in a season that would produce the franchise's 17th NBA title.

That was the last time the Jazz won in Boston.

The Jazz, who have lost nine straight games in Boston, visit the Celtics Friday night and come to town toting a four-game losing streak -- and are 0-2 at the start of a six-game road trip.

"We've got to play better on the defensive end," Utah coach Quin Snyder said after his team suffered a 103-100 loss at Chicago on Monday night. "We've been here before, as far as the ball not going in. We have to be more stingy. We didn't have that tonight."

On Friday, they go against a team that, after laying an egg in Chicago on Monday, responded with a season-high 124 points in defeating the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night. The Celtics (24-6) shot 59.5 percent from the floor in the game, their highest shooting percentage since a 60 percent game against the Orlando Magic in 2013.

Boston won both games against Utah last season.

Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence with a quad bruise and scored 33 points and the Celtics survived despite being out-rebounded 48-30 and allowing a season high-tying 118 points to the Nuggets, who were missing three of their top four scorers.

The Celtics were missing Al Horford and Marcus Morris, both out with knee problems. Horford's absence was described as rest while Morris will apparently need weeks to make his knee right. Team president Danny Ainge said Thursday, on his regular weekly radio interview 98.5 The Sports Hub, that a rehab plan is being mapped out for Morris, one that could include him getting some playing time during the process.

There was no official word on Horford's status for Friday.

The Jazz (13-15) are looking for some kind of consistency -- the positive kind.

"We can't do it in spurts," said Rodney Hood, who returned and scored 15 points Wednesday after missing seven games with ankle soreness. "If we can't sustain it over 48 minutes, we're not going to win."

Friday's game would have marked Gordon Hayward's first game against his old team but he was lost, probably for the season, in the Celtics' opener.

The visit by the Jazz also brings Jonas Jerebko, who played the last 3 1/2 seasons with the Celtics, back to TD Garden.

Jaylen Brown, who shed his goggles and went back to contact lenses Wednesday, scored 26 points in Wednesday's Celtics win and big man Aron Baynes had 17 and Jayson Tatum 15. Boston also got a huge spark off the bench from Shane Larkin, who scored 14 points in 17 1/2 minutes, most of them in two important spurts.

Tatum remains an impressive rookie for Boston. For the season, he is hitting 50.7 percent from the floor, 50.5 percent from 3-point range.

He is sixth in the NBA in rookie scoring, at 13.8 points per game, but Utah's Donovan Mitchell, who had 32 points in Chicago, leads all first-year players at 17.8 per game. Tatum is just ahead of Philadelphia's Ben Simmons for top rookie shooting percentage and is the runway leader from behind the arc.

The Celtics sent Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele to their Maine G League affiliate.

Updated December 14, 2017

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