After a convincing win on Friday night, the Boston Celtics came up short, 108-89, on Sunday night against the New Orleans Pelicans in the final of a two-game road-trip.
The Celtics were once again without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), Jaylen Brown (concussion) and Marcus Smart (right thumb surgery). But Jabari Bird made his return after being sidelined since mid-January with back spasms.
Solomon Hill made his season debut, with DeMarcus Cousins (left achilles rupture), Alexis Ajinca (right knee) and Frank Jackson (right foot fracture) all out of the lineup for New Orleans. Rajon Rondo would return to the starting lineup in the second of back-to-back games for the Pelicans.
The Celtics opened up the game with an 8-0 run in the first three minutes, with the Pelicans starting the game ice cold, missing their first six shots from the field. And the Pelicans would end up finishing the quarter just like they started. Over the final 2:59, the Pelicans were held without a field goal on their final seven possessions in the quarter.
At the end of the first, the Celtics held a 28-20 lead, on 41.7 percent shooting from the field. And it’s a good thing fouls are free, because a huge shipment came in with the C’s finishing the quarter with seven and the Pelicans with three. The fouls kept coming because by the end of the game, the Celtics were called on 21 fouls, with the Pelicans getting charged with 13.
The Pelicans went on an 11-4 run late in the second to pull within one of the C’s, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics took a 49-47 lead into halftime.
During the first-half the Celtics shot 45.2 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three. And they’d later finish the game shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three.
And the Pelicans shot 46.3 percent from the field and 25 percent from three in the first-half. But they’d turn things around, finishing the game shooting 50 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point land.
The Pelicans came out real hot to start the third, as they’d go on a 19-4 run in the opening four minutes to take a 61-53 lead. But the C’s couldn’t get things together on the defensive end throughout the remainder of the quarter and the Pelicans just kept scoring the basketball.
Following a seven-point swing in the third, the Pelicans would take an, 82-76, lead into the final frame of the game.
Just 66 seconds into the fourth, Abdel Nader was fouled from beyond the arc during a three-point attempt, so he’d go to line shooting three. But before he could make it to the line, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was called on a technical foul, for going off on the refs for what he thought was a lousy call.
Nader would eventually shoot the technical foul shot, which he missed, before taking his three freebies, in which he’d miss those too.
The Pelicans would take a 23-point lead, their largest of the night with 2:12 to play in the game.
And it’s probably safe to call the entire fourth quarter a run for the Pelicans, as they’d go onto out-score the Celtics, 26-13, leading to a 108-89 win.
Jayson Tatum led all C’s scorers with 23 points (9-14 FG) and five rebounds. And Marcus Morris would finish with 17 points (5-14 FG) and six rebounds.
“We always want him to be aggressive,” Brad Stevens says of Jayson Tatum. “Getting to the rim the way he did I thought was great.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 19, 2018
Greg Monroe filled the stat-sheet with 12 points (6-13 FG), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and four turnovers off the bench.
In their first meeting of the year back in mid-January, the Pelicans knocked off the C’s 116-113 in overtime behind Davis’ 45-point, 16-rebound double-double. He’d later finish Sunday’s matchup with another 34-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Al Horford on Anthony Davis: “He was able to get behind our defense a lot. There were some mistakes on my end, but you’ve gotta give him credit - he dominated tonight.” pic.twitter.com/Zb07j1wMC5— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 19, 2018
The Celtics are now 24-10 on the road, with seven games remaining on the road, and five left at home. The C’s welcome the streaking Oklahoma City Thunder, who have won six in a row, to the TD Garden on Tuesday night for an epic battle between two of the biggest contenders from the East and West.
UP NEXT: The Celtics (46-23) will welcome Russell Westbrook and the red-hot Thunder (43-29) to the TD Garden on Tuesday night. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.
— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at email@example.com.