The Celtics pulled out a win that was harder than it probably should have been and beat the Pelicans, 104-97. The Pelicans are missing 8 players to injury, including Anthony Davis.
The Celtics took a quick 8-2 lead early in the game with a lot of energy coming from both the offensive and defensive end. Isaiah Thomas was feeling it right away. He scored 7 points in the quarter. Avery Bradley was a major force on defense, but his contributions couldn't carry over to offense as he shot 1-5 in the quarter. The beaten-up Pelicans obviously did not look as coherent as Boston (14 turnovers in the first half), however, they kept up with the Cs for the most part.
Isaiah Thomas continued his brilliance in the second quarter, finishing the half with 16 points on 7-13 shooting. Amir Johnson cleaned up well on the boards, and we even saw some rare RJ Hunter time, but the Celtics just could not seem to shake New Orleans. Tim Frazier, a player who camped with the Celtics and played for the Red Claws, scored a team-high 12 points for NOLA. The Pelicans caught up towards the end of the half due to Boston's poor transition defense, but some IT heroics pulled the Celtics further away. They finished the half up 53-45.
The third quarter was interesting...to say the least. I can sumarize this easily: Celtics make a run, Pelicans catch up, Celtics make a run, Pelicans catch up. At one point, the Celtics led by 16 points, but it was a one-man-show offensively. Toney Douglas scored 8 third-quarter points for New Orleans as the Pelicans quickly moved themselves back into the game. The Pelicans, after committing a ridiculous amount of first-half turnovers, definitely took better care of the basketball, which was a major reason why they were giving the Celtics some trouble pulling away.
The fourth quarter was just as frustrating...until the final minutes. The Celtics continued to struggle from the field and did not seem that involved with the flow of the game. Luckily, the Pelicans showed why they are one of the NBA's worst teams and blew their chance with a fumbled pass, turnovers, and a few missed layups.
This game was definitely closer than it needed to be. For a team that struggles to score, the Pelicans' scoring was very widespread, as six players scored in double digits. Most nights, only one or two players reaches double digits for that team. The Celtics shot 29.4% from behind the arc and also struggled from inside the arc. Isaiah Thomas exposed the starless and injured Pelicans with a beautiful offensive game (32 points, 8 assists).
While it was an ugly one, a win is a win, and, pending the Heat and Hawks games tomorrow, the Celtics could be closer to getting home court in the playoffs.
They will face the Bucks at home at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.