It’s safe to say Evan Fournier has had better days on the court.
The Boston Celtics newcomer shot 0-for-10 in 32:33 of playing time from the field in Monday’s 115-109 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden. Of course, some of those points could have held Boston seal a win, but Fournier just couldn’t seem to get the ball to go into the net.
Fournier, who was dealt to the Celtics at the NBA trade deadline, was averaging 19.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game heading into Monday, so it’s fair if Celtics fans, who were in TD Garden for the first time in over a year, left a bit disappointed.
Sure, it wasn’t the greatest debut for Fournier. In fact, it was downright awful. But head coach Brad Stevens isn’t worried about the 28-year-old, especially with what he dealt with after he was traded.
“I just walked by his locker and said, ‘this will just be a small blip on your time here,'” Stevens said after the game. He flew to Oklahoma City, got off the plane, was told he was positive then had to take a bunch of negative tests in a row. It’s been a tougher than normal trade for him. I know that he’s not going to make that excuse, but I got no doubt that Evan Fournier is going to score a lot of buckets for the Celtics. Very much a blip, not worried about it.”
Kemba Walker also just wanted to help keep his new teammates’ spirits high after a tough game.
“Of course,” Walker said. “It’s difficult coming to a new team, trying to play well, trying to remember all the new plays and the system. It’s not easy. At the end of the day, come on now, we all know how good Evan is. He’s gonna be great for us. He had great looks, shots that we all know he can make. … He’s just adjusting. He can definitely knock those shots down. Just give him some encouragement, and just let him know not to think too much, just play the game. We believe in him. He’s gonna be great for us.”
Fournier still has plenty of time to prove he was a good pickup by Boston, it’s just a matter of finding his groove with a new team.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Celtics-Pelicans game:
— Marcus Smart had a, shall we say, very bewildering mistake in the third quarter with the game well in reach for the Celtics.
The guard, with a fresh shot clock, rocketed the basketball down the court, wasting a possession and causing a lot of confusion.
Stevens wasn’t about to play the blame game, though.
“We’ll always go back and we’ll look at the game in its entirety and go through each of those with each of our individuals,” Stevens said. “The way I look at it more as a team. We weren’t able to match (the Pelicans). In the first half I thought they made shots, they made it really difficult on us. I thought we were flying around, super engaged. And the second half, obviously is turned mid-quarter, and they kept that up. We just didn’t respond as a group as well as we can. I’ll focus on the individuals when we talk to them each. But as a group we came up short.”
— Jayson Tatum went off to the tune of 34 points, and even passed Avery Bradley on the Celtics’ all-time 3-point list.
Tatum shot 5-of-9 from deep Monday night.
— Fans entered TD Garden to watch a Celtics game for the first time in 386 days, something Stevens said was emotional for him.
“I don’t even wanna complain,” Stevens said. “We’ve lost so many people in the United States and all over the world. … The terrible tragedy the past year has been. And, from our own experience playing in the bubble, not playing in front of anybody and then seeing fans occasionally on the road, but not here. I’d say it was pretty emotional for me to see it because it just signals maybe we can buckle down and get through this, then we can have something resemble normal back.
“Obviously, that’s not a lot of people in there. But man it sounded like a lot more people than when we’ve been on the road. I appreciate all the people that came. I appreciate them being here because for those of us who have coached and played basketball games in front of no one, it’s been fun, it’s been basketball, but it hasn’t felt normal or right. So tonight felt a little bit more normal and right even though we missed more shots than they did.”
— The Celtics have lost games this year due to a lack of defensive effort, but Stevens wasn’t convinced that was the case Monday night.
“Tonight, we were engaged,” he said. “We got beat by a better offense. Those guys, again, made a lot of plays. There were certainly times we’ll go back and watch the film where we’ll say, ‘we could have done better.’ I won’t say we played perfect, not even close. But this was not an engagement or effort thing, and we’ve been a little bit better the last couple of games, which is encouraging. …”
— The Celtics are back in action Wednesday night when they welcome the Dallas Mavericks to TD Garden.