That was a tough one.
The Boston Celtics held a 24-point lead in the third quarter, and ultimately blew it in their 120-115 overtime loss to New Orleans Pelicans Sunday at Smoothie King Center.
Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 33 points, while Jayson Tatum had 32. Jaylen Brown provided the C’s with 25 points and nine rebounds.
Zion Williamson bounced back from a dismal first half and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Lonzo Ball (16 points) and Josh Hart (17 points) also played a key role in the Pelicans’ win.
The Celtics fell to 15-15 while the Pelicans moved to 13-17.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Daniel Theis
QUICK BOUNCE BACK
Things looked pretty grim early, but the C’s managed to turn things around quickly.
Boston’s defense was shaky to start, allowing New Orleans to open the game with an 11-2 run led by Ball.
But the C’s found their groove as the quarter progressed, even taking the lead on a Semi Ojeleye triple with 3:51 left in the first. Brown gave the team a much-needed boost with 11 points, four rebounds and five assists.
Boston extended its lead to five at one point in the quarter, though New Orleans tied things back up with 49.1 seconds on the clock.
Still, the C’s managed to take a 30-28 lead into the second courtesy of a last-second Aaron Nesmith put-back.
Boston’s dominance didn’t fade in the second.
The C’s built a double-figure lead just 2 1/2 minutes in. Their defense looked much better than it did to start the game, and it allowed Boston to maintain its lead throughout the quarter.
Tatum (17 points five rebounds, one steal) stepped up in the early going.
Nesmith (seven points, two rebounds, two steals) and Robert Williams (four points, five rebounds) also provided support on both ends of the court.
Perhaps Boston’s biggest accomplishment in the first half was keeping Williamson quiet. The 20-year-old put up just four points and had three of the Pelicans’ 10 first-half turnovers.
Ball and Ingram bolstered New Orleans’ offense with 13 points apiece.
The Celtics entered halftime up 63-47.
Not much changed in the third (or the second half, for that matter).
Boston’s lead hovered around 20 points for much of the quarter thanks to some seamless play on both ends of the court. At one point, the Celtics’ led by 24.
Williams and Brown connected multiple times in Sunday’s contest, but this lob might be the best of them all.
New Orleans did go on a 7-0 run in the latter half of the third, but Nesmith put a stop to it with an And-1.
Boston regained control and took a 87-74 advantage into the final frame.
PELICANS PUSH BACK BIG TIME
You had to know things would get interesting.
The fourth started with a JJ Reddick ejection after the Pelicans guard picked up his second technical foul in a matter of 30 seconds. And that was just the start of one crazy quarter.
New Orleans quickly gained momentum and trimmed Boston’s lead to three with just under seven minutes left in the game. A Brown triple brought the Celtics’ lead back up to six, but an Ingram and-1 erased that progress in no time.
Ingram didn’t stop there, though, tying things up at 98-all with a beautiful shot from beyond the arc.
Nicolo Melli gave the Pelicans the lead with his own 3-pointer just 30 seconds later.
The teams traded buckets throughout the final four minutes of the game and wound up tied at 104-all with 1:48 to play in regulation. Walker missed a go-ahead 3-pointer roughly a minute later, allowing the Pelicans to collect and draw a foul on the opposite end.
Ball gave New Orleans a one-point lead with his resulting free-throw.
Tatum nailed his go-ahead jumper to put Boston up one, but Williamson took the lead right back for the Pelicans with a key and-1 with 6.9 on the clock.
Tatum came in clutch once again, though, with a floater to tie the game at 108-all with 0.2 to go.
Things stayed relatively even for most of OT, but New Orleans ultimately prevailed.
Williams kept the Celtics in it late with some more stellar defense, which allowed Boston to capitalize on the transition and take a one-point lead with 1:02 left.
Ingram tied things up with a free throw before turning around and hitting a go-ahead triple thanks to a double-lane violation.
Ingram wasn’t perfect, though, and fouled Brown while the swingman was attempting a 3-pointer of his own. He made all three free throws to make it a two-point game with 16.3 seconds left.
A missed free throw by Josh Hart opened up the door for the C’s, but Boston simply couldn’t finish the job. The Pelicans went on to win 120-115.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Celtics are off to Dallas for Tuesday’s matchup with the Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.