BOSTON — The Boston Celtics presented new coach Brad Stevens with his first NBA victory, overcoming a slow to start and a shaky fourth quarter to defeat the Utah Jazz, 97-87, in a battle of two of the league’s four winless teams entering Wednesday night.
The former Butler coach, making the jump to the pros, lost his first four games. He made a starting lineup change and expanded his rotation Wednesday.
Stevens moved guard Jordan Crawford into the starting lineup in favor of a less-than-thrilled Gerald Wallace.
The results were anything but immediate, as the Jazz (0-5) went 8-for-10 from the floor to take a 16-3 lead 5:11 into the game.
But the Celtics (1-4) caught the visitors in the second quarter, holding Utah to eight points to lead by 16 at the break. They led by as many as 25 before the Jazz, playing for the second straight night, charged back.
Crawford and Wallace wound up being part of the second-quarter explosion. Wallace came off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes in the first half and finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
Utah got as close as six with 4:30 left in the game.
Forward Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 20 points, while forward Jeff Green had 16. Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk had 14 points and eight rebounds and Crawford had seven points.
When the game ended, Stevens showed no emotion, calmly walking off the court.
Swingman Gordon Hayward, whom played his college ball for Stevens at Butler, had 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Jazz, who also got 22 points and eight rebounds from center Enes Kanter and 10 points and 14 boards from forward Derrick Favors.
It was Boston’s sixth straight win over the Jazz.
Notes: Entering Wednesday’s game, the Celtics were averaging 102 points per 100 possessions with Crawford on the floor, 86 points per 100 tries when he was on the bench. He replaced Wallace in the starting lineup. Wallace, hardly thrilled with the move, told the Boston Globe, “I’ve always been a starter. I worked my tail off in the league to become a starter.” ... Brad Stevens, talking about Hayward, who played for Stevens at Butler when the pair reached the NCAA title game in 2010: “He’s awfully good and just continues to get better.” ... The Celtics, who have yet to play consecutive home games, visit the Orlando Magic on Friday and the Miami Heat on Saturday before starting a three-game homestand Monday night against Orlando. The Jazz wrap up their road trip by playing the Bulls in Chicago on Friday and the Raptors in Toronto on Saturday.