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Keys to the Game: Pelicans 106, Celtics 105

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Key Moment

In a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire, the New Orleans Pelicans pulled out a 106-105 victory in regulation Monday night over the visiting Boston Celtics.

For a brief moment, it felt as if the game was almost certain to bleed into overtime.

Isaiah Thomas scored Boston’s biggest bucket of the game with 7.4 seconds left to tie the contest up at 105-105. The basket arrived after the C’s had called timeout, and after Thomas curled off of multiple perimeter screens to find an open lane toward the basket.

New Orleans did not have any timeouts remaining and was forced to push the ball in the opposite direction after Thomas’ make for a potential game-winning shot. Tim Frazier, the former Celtic, was the man who had the game in his hands on the Pelicans’ final possession of the night.

Frazier pushed the ball up the left side of the court and stopped in his tracks on the left wing, just over the 3-point line. He went into his shooting motion for what was expected to be a potential game-winning shot. However, he sensed Kelly Olynyk closing out on him to contest the shot, so the point guard instead threw a pump fake. Frazier drew contact from Olynyk and then released a shot, resulting in a trip to the free-throw line with 2.5 seconds left in the game.

Frazier canned the first to give New Orleans a 106-105 lead but then missed the second. Boston, which was also out of timeouts, was unable to score a basket on its ensuing possession.

This upset win certainly felt great for the Pelicans, who won for the first time on their home court this season. It must have felt especially gratifying for Frazier, who had a cup of tea with the C’s and is now serving as the starting point guard for New Orleans.

Key Player

The only reason this game went down to the wire was because of Isaiah Thomas. Without him, the Celtics likely would have faded away from New Orleans with a convincing defeat.

However, Thomas, who is playing through a sprained middle finger on his shooting hand, managed to score a game-high 37 points Monday night against New Orleans. He accounted for 10 of Boston’s 20 free throw attempts, converting on eight of them. He shot 13-for-29 from the field on the night.

Thomas also dished out a game-high seven assists while clearly acting as the most influential player on the court wearing a green jersey. Boston outscored New Orleans by 13 points during his 36-plus minutes of action; only one other Celtic, Kelly Olynyk (plus-10), finished with a plus/minus rating better than plus-two.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston attempted 41 3-pointers, making 12.
  • Both teams shot 7-for-8 on their fast break shot attempts.
  • Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 37 points.
  • Thomas attempted half of Boston's 20 free throw attempts.
  • Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 25 points and also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
  • Davis nearly committed as many turnovers (seven) as Boston's entire team (10, not counting violations).
  • Avery Bradley led Boston in rebounding with 10 boards.
  • Thomas dished out a game-high seven assists.
  • New Orleans made 10 more free throws (30) than Boston attempted (20).
  • Langston Galloway scored 21 points off of New Orleans' bench.
  • Terrence Jones logged a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.
  • The Celtics did not block a shot, while two Pelicans (Davis and Jones) blocked two shots apiece.
  • The C's outscored the Pelicans by 13 points while Thomas was on the court, and by 10 points while Kelly Olynyk was on the court. Meanwhile, no New Orleans player finished with a plus/minus rating better than plus-seven.
  • Davis and Marcus Smart each grabbed four steals.
  • Smart shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range en route to 15 points.

Quote of the Night

I try to go to the basket more and be aggressive so I can get calls, but it’s hard, man. It’s the NBA. Sometimes they call it, sometimes they don’t.

Avery Bradley on getting to the free-throw line only twice Monday night in New Orleans.