Final, Pelicans win 95-92: Jared Sullinger never really got a great look as New Orleans knew the Celtics needed to take a 3-pointer. Sullinger’s heavily contested attempt missed short and right and the Celtics’ skid extends to six losses in their last seven games.
Avery Bradley had 22 points (and no assists), Kris Humphries provided seven points and 12 huge rebounds off the bench and Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger each posted double-doubles.
That wasn’t enough for the Celtics to overcome a 14-point second half by Anthony Davis, who finished with 23 points, nine boards and three blocks, or their own poor shooting. The Celtics shot just 34.8 percent from the field despite taking pretty good care of the ball with just nine turnovers.
Fourth quarter, :06.4, Pelicans 95-92: Normally, it wouldn’t be a bad move to foul the second-year backup point guard. Brian Roberts isn’t your usual second-year backup point guard, though. Roberts hasn’t missed a free throw all year, and he still hasn’t now that he’s dropped both shots to extend New Orleans’ lead to three.
Fourth quarter, :07.1, Pelicans 93-92: The Celtics had their chance, courtesy of a rejection of Evans by Humphries. But Bradley drove into a crowd in the lane and missed badly. Davis came out with the board and was able to call timeout. It’ll be foul-and-hope time when the timeout ends.
Fourth quarter, :35.2, Pelicans 93-92: The Celtics keep holding on by a thread. Tyreke Evans drives for a layup and Jeff Green gets fouled trying for a superhuman dunk over every Pelican and drops both free throws.
Fourth quarter, 1:01, Pelicans 91-90: Told you it was going to be that kind of ending. Sullinger gets blocked, gets his own rebound and has his kick-out pass deflected. But Bradley and Evans both touched the ball near the baseline and the ball was awarded to the Celtics.
Upon review, the call was upheld.
Fourth quarter, 1:10, Pelicans 91-90: Kris Humphries did his job and checks out for the rest of the fourth with seven points and 12 rebounds. The Celtics, looking for that elusive point to tie it up, ran around haphazardly and needed an offensive board from Sullinger to stay alive. It’s going to be that kind of ending.
Fourth quarter, 3:27, Celtics 88-85: Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green might be maddening, but they’re coming up big for the Celtics now. Green drained a three to give the Celtics a 86-83 lead, then Crawford answered an Anthony Davis putback with a jumper off a ball screen after Kris Humphries hustled for an offensive rebound.
Humphries is having a nice game with five points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Along with Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger, Humphries is one of three Boston bigs who have done positive things. The Celtics’ 19 offensive boards ties their season high.
Fourth quarter, 5:40, Pelicans 82-81: Jared Sullinger is taking it to Greg Stiemsma and the Pelican’s interior defenders. He’s not getting all the calls, and that’s frustrating him, but he’s getting them when Stiemsma is in the area.
Stiemsma picks up his fourth foul and Sullinger keeps going to the line to keep the Celtics close. It’s been a battle for him and the rest of the team, which has had more than its share of shots rim out. Sullinger is 3-for-14 from the field; the Celtics are shooting 37 percent overall.
Anthony Davis has woken up since the first half, when he had nine points and no rebounds. He has the same number of points and five boards since.
Fourth quarter, 11:02, Celtics 75-73: Phil Pressey picked Brian Roberts’ pocket and nearly took out the mop boy with the ensuing fastbreak layup, but that’s not why we’re in a timeout. Gerald Wallace plowed into the back of Ryan Anderson’s knee and sent the New Orleans forward to the floor, grimacing. Doctors are attending to Anderson, who doesn’t look to be in a good mood.
End of third quarter, Pelicans 73-72: Avery Bradley is doing his best to save the Celtics, but it was Jeff Green who really woke up the team in the third quarter.
Green finally got his first field goal of the second half with a 3-pointer that pulled the Celtics within one point — and sparked their most energetic push of the game. Brandon Bass scored on a putback to give the Celtics their first lead since the second quarter, and the Celtics used a 30-9 run to take a three-point lead.
The good rhythm didn’t last as the Pelicans regained the lead, but this should be set up for a fun fourth quarter. Bradley has a game-high 22 points and Greg Stiemsma, who is constantly in the right place at the right time, has 12 points for New Orleans.
Third quarter, 5:42, Pelicans 57-55: Despite Jeff Green clanking away, the Celtics are managing to keep the Pelicans close.
Mainly, this is because the Pelicans aren’t all that good. But it’s also because Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger are doing some hard work down low. The Celtics hold an 11-7 advantage on the offensive glass thanks to the work of those two. Bass is already one board shy of a double-double.
As for Green, he’s now 2-for-6 from the field and 2-for-4 from the foul line for six points. He went down hard while attempting a fastbreak dunk over Jrue Holiday, but got up slowly after a few minutes on the ground and split his freebies.
Halftime, Pelicans 49-43: Ryan Anderson is having a typical Ryan Anderson-type game, but not because Brandon Bass hasn’t held up his side of the bargain. Bass hit all six shots he took in the first half and played solid defense on Anderson, even rejecting a pull-up jumper attempt.
Anderson is knotted with Tyreke Evans for New Orleans’ scoring high with 10 points. Bass has 12 points to lead the Celtics, with Avery Bradley right behind with 10 points.
The Celtics looked much more like a real NBA team on offense in the second quarter. They scored 26 points, shot 48 percent and had only one turnover. But their offense didn’t take the step forward with their offense. They allowed the Pellies to shoot 65 percent and committed seven fouls in the frame, letting former Celtic Greg Stiemsma run wild. The Stiemer set a season-high mark in scoring with eight points, all scored in the second quarter.
Second quarter, 2:55, Pelicans 42-37: Even when the Celtics have an opening, they don’t take it. Anthony Davis hit the pine after an open-court dunk, but instead of inbounding the ball quickly and getting the ball upcourt while New Orleans’ best shot-blocker was down, Jeff Green politely waited for Davis to get up before passing it in to Jordan Crawford.
Crawford, who recognized the situation, was practically begging Green to inbound so the Celtics could have an advantage. But Green was either being criminally non-heads-up or being unnecessarily nice.
Second quarter, 4:48, Pelicans 38-32: Courtney Lee is having a career-best season in scoring efficiency and field goal percentage. This game isn’t living up to those standards, though.
Lee is 1-for-6 from the field in 10 unproductive minutes. He’s paired with Gerald Wallace and Phil Pressey, who basically refuse to shoot, so he doesn’t have a lot of choice but to fire away. Avery Bradley is headed back in to give the Celtics a new look in the backcourt, because the current look is not working.
Second quarter, 7:22, game tied 30-30: With Anthony Davis out, the Celtics have gotten fearless about attacking the rim. They clearly do not fear Ryan Anderson or Greg Stiemsma as rim-protectors, the latter’s comparisons to Bill Russell aside.
Bass threw down a dunk directly on Stiemsma’s grill and Sullinger bulled into Anderson’s chest for a physical layup. Sullinger also has a tough and-one putback after sneaking around a pair of would-be New Orleans box-outs early in the period.
End first quarter, Pelicans 22-17: When the annals of history record the greatest quarters in basketball, this first quarter will be nowhere near that list.
It was an all-around atrocious 12 minutes of basketball, save for the impressive exploits of Anthony Davis, who has six points, two assists and a nifty steal by picking Jeff Green’s pocket. Avery Bradley had a flurry that helped him get to a game-high seven points, but overall the play has been nothing impressive.
The teams are a combined 1-for-6 from downtown and their seven combined turnovers don’t begin to tell the story of how indecisive they have been with the ball at times. The Celtics seem to be having trouble with the Pelicans’ length. Davis has a habit of doing that to teams.
First quarter, 6:22, game tied 6-6: Jeff Green is picking up right where he left off Thursday in Chicago — by taking every available shot.
Green took Boston’s first two shots and four of its first nine shots. His first was a layup that almost went over the backboard. His second was a jumper that barely grazed the rim. His third was an open-lane dunk. His fourth was a step-back 3-pointer with Anthony Davis defending him on the perimeter.
Inefficient looks like those have dominated for both sides, which are a combined 6-for-19 from the field. Maybe the late arrival for the Celtics and being snowed in on Thursday for the Pelicans is just affecting them in the early going.
6:40 p.m.: Anthony Davis quietly is one of the best young players in the NBA. Ryan Anderson is quietly one of the best players, period. They both have a fan in Brad Stevens, who complimented both before the game while calling New Orleans “one of the most intriguing young talent teams in this league.”
One of those players whose talent is more intriguing than his production is Austin Rivers. The former first round draft pick has struggled this season, with poor play and a shortage of minutes leading to one another in a vicious downward spiral.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams, who has known Rivers since he was young due to playing for Rivers’ father, Doc, in Orlando, is staying patient with the youngster many have already called a bust.
“Just like any young guy, just keep working, try to find his niche in the NBA,” Williams said. “I think he gets a bad rap because everybody wants him to be a world changer right away. He’s right where most young guys are at this point.”
Well, he’s right where most young guys are, except for Davis, who came in as part of the same draft class and has left the former Dukie in the dust.
6:08 p.m.: The Celtics’ trip back from Chicago didn’t got entirely as planned, with the team arriving back in the area around 1 p.m. Friday. But if anybody is looking for an excuse for the Celtics due to their late arrival for the back-to-back, they won’t find it from Brad Stevens.
“We didn’t pick the two best cities to fly in and out of in the last 48 hours or so,” Stevens said in his pregame media availability. “No excuses from our standpoint. We have a game to play. Whether we get in at 3 in the morning, whether we get in at 1 in the afternoon, we’ve got to play.”
Jared Sullinger is expected to play again despite a bruised left hand that has caused him discomfort in the last handful of games. He angrily threw aside the padded glove he was wearing after leaving Friday’s loss in Chicago, but it’s not clear if he’ll keep the glove or discard it tonight.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: The last time Austin Rivers played at TD Garden, it was an event. This time, he’s just another player, and he’s not related to anybody on the Celtics’ bench.
Doc Rivers is now the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, in case you weren’t aware, and his son is struggling mightily in New Orleans. Although the Pelicans (14-16) have begun to show promise lately with three wins in their last five games, this season has been rough for Austin Rivers. The second-year guard is averaging just 12.3 minutes per game in New Orleans’ stacked backcourt, and he hasn’t done much in his limited playing time to warrant more minutes.
Showing just how different life is in the Western Conference, the Pelicans are on the outside of the playoff picture while the Celtics (13-19) are just outside the field in the East. If the Pellies were in the East, they’d be the fourth of fifth seed, depending on what division they were in.
The Pelicans spent Thursday night in Boston, so no transportation issues are expected for them. The Celtics were scheduled to take a late-night flight into Boston, where the storm was forecast to peter out in the late morning.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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