Brad Stevens didn’t think the first play would work. The second one turned out perfectly.
Tyler Zeller banked in a shot from under the basket as time expired to give the Boston Celtics an 85-84 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
After Boston blew an eight-point lead in the final 2 1/2 minutes, the Celtics called timeout after Gordon Hayward’s fallaway jumper from the right baseline with 1.7 seconds left gave Utah a one-point edge.
Marcus Smart was unable to inbounds the ball and had to call timeout.
Stevens went back to the drawing board.
Smart then made a long inbounds pass to Zeller under the basket. He banked it off the backboard with 0.1 seconds showing on the clock. It went through the net as the buzzer sounded and was upheld after a review.
“It was a good play,” Boston forward Jae Crowder said he told his coach immediately after the basket. “Good audible. He drew up something way different.”
Zeller made the right move before the shot.
“I saw Gordon (Hayward) flying in so I shot-faked and just got the ball up,” he said. “Thankfully, I was able to get it up to the rim and was able to make it.”
Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 21 points, Crowder had 18 and Avery Bradley added 13 points and seven rebounds to help the Celtics rebound from a 31-point loss in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Derrick Favors and Trey Burke scored 16 points each for Utah, which had its three-game winning streak snapped. Rudy Gobert had 10 points and 16 rebounds, and Hayward scored 13 points.
“It was a great pass,” Hayward said about the play before turning his thoughts to his former college coach at Butler. “That’s what Coach Stevens does. He’s excellent in those situations.”
The Jazz trailed 81-73 with 2 1/2 minutes to play, but rallied to slice it to 83-82 on Burke’s driving basket with 54.8 seconds left.
After Thomas missed a 3-pointer from the right wing and Crowder’s put-back was blocked by Gobert, Burke’s drive bounced off the rim and out of bounds off one of Boston’s players with 9.5 seconds to go.
Hayward dribbled from the top of the key before nailing his shot.
“We should have won,” Gobert said “We made good plays at the end and we had the game.”
The Celtics, who led by six points after three quarters, pulled to their biggest lead of the game, 66-57, on Thomas’ 3-pointer early in the fourth. They led by nine twice more before the Jazz went on a 7-1 run, closing it to 71-68 on Favors’ jumper with 6:05 to play.
Crowder then scored Boston’s next five points to trigger a 10-5 spurt as the Celtics opened an 81-73 edge on Thomas’ transition jumper from the right wing with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Boston led by one at the half despite shooting just 32.6 percent (15 of 46). The Jazz didn’t fare much better, hitting only 37.1 (13 of 35).
Jazz: Favors entered averaging 17 points and 10 assists in his last five games. … Gobert was coming off a career-best 24-rebound effort in a win over Memphis on Tuesday night. … Rodney Hood rolled his ankle and left the game early in the fourth. … Nineteen-years ago, Hall of Famer John Stockton became the first NBA player to reach 11,000 assists.
Celtics: Kelly Olynyk returned after missing 18 games with a sprained right ankle. … Stevens was interested to see how his team would respond after the loss in Cleveland. “I don’t know how to predict it because I don’t know some of these guys,” he said. … The Celtics beat the Jazz in Utah, 99-90, on Jan. 26.
TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
Boston had a franchise-record low three turnovers.
POOR FROM BEHIND THE LINES
Both teams shot under 30 percent from beyond the arc. Utah was 3 of 19 and Boston 8 of 27. The Celtics were also 11 for 20 from the free throw line and the Jazz finished 13 of 21 after making only half in the first half.
Bradley scored the first 11 of Boston’s points in the third quarter, nailing three 3-pointers.
Jazz: At Philadelphia on Friday night.
Celtics: At New Orleans on Friday night.