IT was a big night in Utah as the Jazz welcomed back Gordon Hayward for his first game against his former team.
Now with the Celtics, Hayward returned to where he spent the first seven years of his NBA career and was met with a chorus of boos as he took to the floor.
With all eyes focusing on Hayward as the game began, it was Aussie Joe Ingles who stole the show as he thrived in the one-on-one battle with the former Jazz star.
Ingles was electric from the opening moments of the game and poured in a career-high 27 points to fuel the Jazz to the 123-115 victory.
Hayward had 13 points and seven assists in his return, but couldn’t emulate the flamethrower shooting of Ingles.
After scoring the opening basket of the game, Ingles carried his hot hand throughout the first half as he went into the main break with 20 points to his name.
The stunning display made him only the fourth Australian player to ever record 20 points in one half of a game.
His hot shooting touch died down in the second half, but his influence on the game was there for all to see as he ended with a career-high 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
The 27-points tied his efforts from the second game of the season when the 31-year-old torched the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
After enduring a recent shooting slump where he failed to crack double digit scoring in three straight games, the breakout came at the perfect time for the Jazz.
Ingles ended up on the postgame feed where his teammate Donovan Mitchell attempted to cool him off with a towel.
He then appeared on Sportscenter with host Scott Van Pelt where he was asked about being the best shooter in the world. “I’m very confident,” Ingles replied.
After joining the exclusive club of Utah Jazz players to register 500+ made three-pointers, Ingles moved even higher on the list after knocking down his fifth in the third quarter.
The shot moved him past Deron Williams for sixth place with 512 to his name.
Donovan Mitchell added 21 points for Utah, Jae Crowder had 20, and Rudy Gobert finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Terry Rozier scored 22 points and Jayson Tatum added 21 for the Celtics. Boston lost for the third time in four games.
The Jazz started to pull away when they scored 3-pointers on each of their final four possessions of the second quarter to take a 58-51 halftime lead.
Utah opened the third quarter on a 17-6 run. Mitchell ignited the run by draining three free throws and driving for a layup on back-to-back possessions.
Derrick Favors kept it going with back-to-back baskets that gave the Jazz a double-digit lead and finished the run off with a pair of free throws that put Utah ahead 75-57 just four minutes into the quarter.
The Jazz eventually built their lead to 20 points, going up 83-63 on a layup from Crowder, before Boston rallied in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics scored on four straight possessions — culminating in Tatum’s layup — to ignite a 15-4 run. Rozier buried a 3-pointer to cap off the run and cut Utah’s lead to 100-96.
Boston got within four points four more times, the final time on a 3-pointer from Marcus Smart that made it 111-107.
But Gobert made a layup to push the lead to six and Tatum missed a pair of layups that could have trimmed the deficit again.
Crowder sealed it on a corner three that gave Utah a 117-109 lead with 47.7 seconds left.
— with AP