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With Rondo hurt, Barbosa sparks Celtics to 98-93 win over Jazz
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics lost Rajon Rondo to what looked like a minor ankle injury, but they still managed to pull out a win Wednesday night.
Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to key an 8-0 run in the third quarter, but Boston had to hang on at the end for a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Boston, winning its third straight to go to 5-3, held Utah scoreless for the final 1:57, with one free throw by Kevin Garnett and two by Paul Pierce providing the points needed for the win. Garnett (11 points, eight rebounds) added two free throws with 6.9 seconds left.
Rondo, who assisted on 10 consecutive baskets bridging the second and third quarters, rolled his right ankle on a drive under the basket with 4:43 left in the third quarter and went limping to the locker room. He returned to the bench, and word was he would try to play, but there was no need because of the way Barbosa was playing.
Barbosa, a 29-year-old guard who signed as a free agent during training camp, scored seven points in the first half, but he was just warming up. He had six points, a rebound and an assist during the 8-0 spurt and finished with 16 points, three assists and two rebounds.
Boston's Paul Pierce scored 23 points, including three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Jeff Green added 16 points off the bench, and Rondo finished with six points and the 10 assists, his 32nd straight double-digit assist game.
Paul Millsap led the Jazz (4-5) with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while former Celtics center Al Jefferson had 13 points and 14 boards. Utah outrebounded Boston 48-33.
It took the Jazz 3:07 to score their first points of the game, but when they scored they scored eight points in a row to take an 8-4 lead after 4:05. Late in the quarter, the visitors moved ahead by seven and they led by five after 12 minutes.
Barbosa scored the last two Boston points of the quarter and then tallied his team's first five of the second quarter.
Rondo didn't get his first assist until he hit Garnett with an alley-oop with 6:07 left in the half. That was the start of a run that saw Rondo assist on five consecutive baskets as his team grabbed a five-point lead late in the half. But the Jazz scored the final seven points of the half, five of them by Mo Williams, to take a 46-44 lead at the break.
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NOTES: The Jazz were coming off a 140-133 overtime win in Toronto on Monday night, the start of a four-game road trip that continued in Philadelphia Friday night and ends in Washington Saturday. ... Jefferson had 24 points and 17 rebounds in that game, Boston coach Doc Rivers saying before last night's game, "He just keeps getting better and better. The thing that I never thought I'd say about Al; he's just becoming a better passer." Jefferson can be a free agent after the season and loved his time in Boston and isn't ruling out a return, but the Celtics have cap problems. ... The Celtics visit Brooklyn on Thursday night. ... Boston sent draft picks Fab Melo and Kris Joseph to Maine of the NBA Development League to get some work. "It's great for both of them," said Rivers. "We actually thought of keeping Chris up, but we don't have any practice. Fab, just needs to play. It's just going to take him a while. I think he'll do really well. There aren't many bigs in the league." Melo has yet to play a game with the Celtics, while Joseph made one appearance. ... Jazz point guard Earl Watson, completing the six-month climb back from knee surgery, has rejoined the team, but he didn't dress Wednesday night. He appeared to be close, coach Tyrone Corbin saying, "We'll see how he goes and how his body responds. We're going to increase his activity a little bit and see how he responds to it."