BOSTON – Jeff Green’s trade was obviously designed to let Jae Crowder become the team’s dominant scorer.
That would have sounded crazy Monday morning, until he scored a career-high 22 points to carry the Celtics to a 106-102 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
With Green on his way to Memphis and Tayshaun Prince and Austin Rivers inactive, Crowder was one of the few wings available for the Celtics. He thrived in his rare chance to start, shooting lights out and outrunning everyone on the floor. His four steals were a game-high, to no surprise.
The win came despite a dominant second half from Anthony Davis, who quietly got into the 20’s in points before eviscerating the Celtics with 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Jared Sullinger did a decent job trying to follow Davis around the court, but The Brow’s presence was persistent and usually unstoppable, even is Sully got one stuff in there on the superstar. Sullinger did have a great scoring night, dropping 27 points to go with his 10 rebounds.
Marcus Smart showed some surprising aggressiveness to the hoop late in the game, helping the Celtics drive up the intensity as they made their winning run. He finished with six assists, four of them in the fourth quarter.
If there was one thing that was apparent, it was that the infusion of Jae Crowder into the lineup in major minutes, juxtaposed to the subtraction of Jeff Green, dramatically improved the Celtics’ effort and energy. On a night where Anthony Davis was a late-game terror, to escape with a win in your first game after trading your leading scorer speaks wonders to the potential of this team.