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Isaiah Thomas’ 29 points, 15 assists send Celtics past Jazz 115-104

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BOSTON (AP) Isaiah Thomas had 29 points and a career-high 15 assists, and the Boston Celtics made 17 3-pointers for the second straight game in beating the Utah Jazz 115-104 on Tuesday night.

Al Horford and Jae Crowder added 21 points apiece and Avery Bradley scored 14 for the Celtics, who have won four of five and eight of 10.

The Celtics ended Utah’s four-game winning streak and beat the Jazz for the ninth straight time in Boston.

Gordon Hayward led Utah with 23 points. Derrick Favors scored 12 and Rudy Gobert pulled down 13 rebounds, extending his streak of 10 or more to 21 consecutive games.

Thomas, coming off his career-high 52 points Friday against the Heat, has scored at least 20 in 19 straight games. He added another personal best Tuesday with 15 assists, two more than his previous high of 13 against Charlotte in December 2015.

Thomas’ 3-pointer with 2:53 left in the second quarter started Boston on a 10-4 run that gave the Celtics a 54-45 halftime lead. Boston stretched the lead to 68-54 early in the third.

Shelvin Mack pulled Utah to 73-65, but the Celtics pulled away again. Horford started the run with a 3 from the top of the key and Thomas drove through traffic for a layup. Marcus Smart added a basket before Crowder hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game to put Boston up 83-66.

Utah’s only points during the Celtics’ run came on technical foul shots by Hayward, one for a 3-second violation and another when Crowder was called for a technical during a timeout.

Boston went up by 15 early in the fourth before the Jazz used an 11-3 run to pull to 98-91 on consecutive layups by Joe Johnson. That was as close as it got and the Jazz were forced to foul late, sending Thomas to the line four times. He was perfect from the stripe for the second straight game.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Raul Neto banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Utah a 29-28 lead entering the second quarter. … Hayward and Mack were teammates at Butler under Celtics coach Brad Stevens. The 2009-10 Bulldogs clinched a Final Four berth in Salt Lake City with a win over Kansas State on March 27, 2010. … Boris Diaw scored 15 for Utah, and Favors had a career-best seven assists.

Celtics: Boston again tied its season high for 3s. Crowder and Thomas each hit five from beyond the arc. … Bradley returned to the lineup after missing one game with an illness. … The Celtics have not lost at home to the Jazz since March 14, 2008, when Utah won 110-92. … Thomas’ 52-point game Friday against Miami was the fourth-highest scoring total in team history. He set a franchise record with 29 points in the fourth quarter against the Heat.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Visit Toronto on Thursday in the third of a five-game road trip.

Celtics: Host Philadelphia on Friday night. The Celtics have won eight straight over the 76ers.

Report: Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns recruiting Kyrie Irving to Minnesota

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When Draymond Green and other members of the Warriors spent time recruiting Kevin Durant to come to Golden State it made sense — he was about to be a free agent who could make his own choices. Watching players such as C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard recruit Carmelo Anthony to Portland makes sense — ‘Melo has a no-trade clause so he needs to waive it to go anywhere, so recruiting makes sense.

This one makes less sense, but it is happening — Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are recruiting Kyrie Irving to come play in Minnesota. Brian Windhorst of ESPN has the reporting.

League sources told ESPN that both Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns have been doing their part to recruit Irving on the idea of playing alongside them in Minnesota, and they’ve made it known to Wolves management that they want to add the Cavs star to the mix. Butler and Irving became tight in their time playing for USA Basketball together. Towns’ father, Karl Towns Sr., and Irving’s father, Drederick Irving, are connected through the basketball scene in northern New Jersey, where they both reside.

This could happen, but just about anything could happen the door is wide open with Irving to a lot of teams. That said, here are my two thoughts.

First, recruiting Irving is nice, but he has zero say in where he gets traded. Irving does not have a no-trade clause, he is not a free agent, he has two years left on his deal and the Cavaliers will/should send him to the team that gives them the best return. What Irving wants is irrelevant (although teams trying to get and keep him may take it into consideration).

Second, Minnesota could put together an interesting package, but there would be hurdles. It would likely involve one or both of Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague. Wiggins can be extended this summer, but that salary would not count toward the salary in this trade so someone such as Cole Aldrich would need to be thrown in (and it would take more than that, there would need to be picks). More likely, it would take Jeff Teague and his $19 million salary to get a deal done — except the Timberwolves signed him this summer so Teague cannot be traded until Dec. 15.

If the Cavaliers can’t find a deal they like this summer, they can step back and look at their options, then decide to wait out the market and bring Irving back to start the season. At that point, a deal with the Timberwolves makes more sense.

In the short term, Butler and KAT can recruit all they want.

Report: Kyrie Irving initially requested trade before draft – to Bulls

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Kyrie Irving reportedly asked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert last week for a trade.

But that apparently wasn’t the first time Irving approached Cleveland about a trade this offseason.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Another league source said that Irving made his initial trade request before last month’s Draft, in hopes of being traded to Chicago and playing with All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler.

That’s around the time Irving reportedly told former Team USA teammates – who include Butler – that he might be interested in a trade and was keen on the Bulls. It seemed that was in preparation for LeBron James leaving in 2018, but Irving’s timeline might have been accelerated.

Irving and Butler are close, but the Cavs went the other way with that information – trying to line up a trade for Butler. Cleveland obviously didn’t pull of a deal, as Chicago dealt Butler to the Timberwolves.

Beyond Butler, the Bulls lacked the assets to trade for Irving. Yes, LeBron and Dwyane Wade are friends. No, Wade’s value is not anywhere remotely near Irving’s. And remember, without a no-trade clause and contracted for two more years before a player option, Irving has minimal leverage to pick his destination.

This report also negates the idea that Irving hurt the Cavaliers and his own likelihood of getting dealt by not requesting a trade before players like Chris Paul and Paul George were settled. Maybe Irving could have been more insistent earlier, but he at least gave a full offseason of notice that he was ready to move on.

AP source: Justin Zanik, David Morway join Jazz front office

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation says the Utah Jazz have reached agreements with Justin Zanik and David Morway to join the front office.

Zanik returns to the Jazz after serving as assistant general manager from 2012-16, the person told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decisions had not been formally announced.

Zanik, a former agent, had been hired as assistant general manager with the Milwaukee Bucks and was expected to succeed general manager John Hammond one day. Hammond was named GM of Orlando Magic in May and the Bucks eventually hired Jon Horst.

Morway was the Pacers’ GM from 2008-12 and Bucks assistant GM from 2013-15. He spent 13 years in the Indiana front office, starting as vice president of basketball administration.

ESPN first reported the agreements.

Former Gatorade executive auctioning off Michael Jordan memorabilia

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Remember the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercials back in the 1990s?

That was the brain child of Bill Schmidt, a now retired VP of Marketing of Gatorade. Over the years he formed a friendship with Michael Jordan, and in the process racked up a treasure trove of Jordan memorabilia — jerseys, game-worn shoes, even game-worn baseball cleats from Jordan’s time in the minors. Almost all of it signed.

Now it’s all being auctioned off, Schmidt told Sole Collector.

“I turn 70 at the end of the year and I’m in good health, knock on wood. If something happens to me, I don’t know what they are going to do with this stuff,” Schmidt told Sole Collector. “Somebody else can enjoy it. It would afford me the opportunity to take care of some other people and other causes as opposed to donating the shoes or whatever. They’ll probably benefit more from the financial side of things.”

Schmidt isn’t keeping the money he gets from the auction, he’s donating it to youth sports groups, a church, and other charities where he lives. And yes, he is keeping a couple of things for himself.

He is doing the auction through Steiner Sports, and you can view it here. It continues for another week. If you’ve got the money pick something up, at least it’s going to a good cause.