The Boston Celtics continued to play winning basketball, as they won their 10th game in 12 tries with a 117-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics were able to withstand an early barrage from Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who finished the game with 36 points, thanks to stellar backcourt play from Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart.
Thomas finished the game with 38 points on 13-for-24 shooting and was a key part of the C’s third-quarter run from which the Pelicans were unable to recover.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 23-14, while the Pelicans fell to 14-24 with the loss.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
With Avery Bradley sidelined with an Achilles injury, Smart elevated his game to help the C’s overcome an early nine-point deficit. He was all over the court during the first half, scoring 15 points and providing great efforts on the defensive side of the ball, including guarding Davis on some switches.
Smart added three triples and four assists in the half to help the Celtics take a four-point lead into the break. He finished the game with 22 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including five buckets from beyond the arc.
THE ANTHONY DAVIS SHOW
The Pelicans’ star forward came out of the gate strong. The do-it-all Davis scored 12 of his team’s first 14 points as the visitors jumped out to an early lead. Davis was able to punish whoever the C’s put on him by scoring from distance, on the block, and getting to the free-throw line.
The All-Star forward was the only reason New Orleans was able to stay within arm’s reach as long as it did, as he scored 19 points in the first half, while the rest of the Pelicans could muster just 16 points combined.
After halftime, the Celtics took their game to another level with the help of an offense that was firing on all cylinders. The offensive attack came from all different angles as Thomas scored the first five points in the stanza before Horford nailed a baseline jumper.
On the next possession, Horford grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Smart for a wide-open 3-pointer.
After Horford converted an old-fashioned three-point play to put the C’s up by 11, Smart buried another triple while being hit by Pelicans guard Buddy Hield, and then hit the free throw to make it a 14-point lead.
The Pelicans cut their deficit to 11 after a Hield 3-pointer, but Thomas and Crowder both answered with triples to swell the Celtics’ lead to 17. Boston outscored New Orleans 36-20 in the quarter and held a 20-point lead at the end of the third, thanks to hot shooting from beyond the arc (5-for-9 in the quarter) and a strong defensive effort that limited the Pelicans’ attack.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It really was Smart’s night.
The C’s next will take the court Tuesday, when they visit Toronto to face the Raptors, who lead Boston atop the Atlantic Division by 1.5 games. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images