SALT LAKE CITY — Despite what some might believe, NBA veteran Tayshaun Prince still has a pulse.
Even his new coach admitted it is hard to see sometimes, but it is there.
Prince helped revive his team’s pulse, too.
The 34-year-old forward scored 19 points, and the Boston Celtics won for the third time in four games Monday, posting a 99-90 victory over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
“He knows what’s going on. He’s lived it all,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said of Prince, a 13-year veteran. “A team’s got you down by 20 in a quarter, it doesn’t look like his pulse is moving. You go up by 20 in a quarter, it doesn’t look like his pulse is moving. He’s just playing. He’s just playing the right way.”
Prince, who was picked up by the Celtics in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies two weeks ago, had a big first half off the bench to help Boston build a 24-point lead that proved large enough.
Center Tyler Zeller scored 14 points in a reserve role, while guard Avery Bradley and forward Jared Sullinger, two starters, each pitched in 12 points.
Boston, which ends its six-game road trip Wednesday in Minnesota, improved to 16-27 overall, 3-2 on its current Western trek.
“Our older guys really made a lot of savvy basketball plays, and I thought our younger guys all played well,” Stevens said. “We made some shots and got going, so it’s nice to play that way.”
Utah small forward Gordon Hayward scored 26 points and grabbed six rebounds, but the Jazz couldn’t overcome a devastating 31-point first half.
Utah fell to 16-29 after winning its previous two games, including its biggest win of the season in terms of margin, 108-73 over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
“We didn’t play hard. It’s a little more complicated than that,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We played soft as much as anything. There was nothing we did with any force.”
The Celtics dominated the first half despite playing the night after a 114-111 loss at Golden State.
Boston exploded in the second quarter, turning a tie game after one quarter into a huge halftime lead by scoring 38 points on 60 percent shooting.
Prince scored 12 of his points in the first half, and Bradley added 10 points before the break to help put Boston up 55-31.
The Jazz only made 13 of 36 shots (36.1 percent) in that opening half.
“We didn’t come out mentally the way we needed to. Not just the guys on the court, the guys on the bench, too,” said Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who scored 18 points in his third game as a backup. “We weren’t into it. We didn’t have the energy we needed to come out and win this game.”
Utah, which was hoping to get its first three-game winning streak since last February, made it interesting in the third quarter.
Hayward scored 13 points in the period and the Jazz stormed back, cutting the Celtics’ 24-point lead down to five going into the fourth quarter.
“I think we just realized we could play a lot better and be more aggressive on both ends,” Hayward said. “Coach didn’t yell at us or anything (at halftime). It was more internal. We can’t let them bully us. That’s not who we are. We came out a little too cool in the first half.”
Boston took advantage of Hayward being on the bench to begin the final period. The Celtics scored eight straight points to re-establish a double-digit lead.
Rookie guard Marcus Smart’s putback dunk with 47.7 seconds remaining all but clinched the win for Boston, giving the Celtics a 93-85 lead.
NOTES: Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if Jazz SF Gordon Hayward, who played for him at Butler, is underrated in the NBA. Stevens replied, “It’s hard to say with the money he earns that he’s underrated. Until he pays for his dinner the next time, that’s what I’ll say.” … Hayward, who is having an All-Star-like season, said he and other Jazz players will get more recognition with more wins. “I see myself as one of the elite players in the league,” he said. “Whether you’re popular or not, to me, doesn’t matter.” … The Jazz signed 27-year-old rookie G Elijah Millsap for the rest of the season and for two additional years with a nonguaranteed contract. Millsap was signed to two 10-day contracts after being called up from the NBA Development League. … Boston F Shavlik Randolph did not play because of a strained left hamstring.
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