New Orleans has been trying to overcome slow starts and poor first quarters in away games lately, but on Monday the issue on the road was the close to a game. Boston trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but crept back to within seven by intermission, then controlled the final 24 minutes, putting the clamps down defensively on the Pelicans.
Boston only managed 18 and 21 points in the first two quarters, but kept improving as the afternoon progressed, pouring in 32 and 33 in the third and fourth periods, outscoring New Orleans 65-46 after the break to win comfortably. It was a very low-scoring 46-39 tally in favor of the visitors at the half.
“I just felt our ball movement could’ve been better,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said of the second-half change in results. “But a lot of it had to do with Boston, the way they played us. They were aggressive, tried to deny us and take us out of sets. We had to be better at executing.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Boston capped an extended 33-point in-game turnaround by taking a 91-76 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown extended the Celtics’ edge soon after by sinking a short jumper.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Herbert Jones was a factor at both ends of the floor, disrupting the Boston offense in the first half with a couple steals. He scored at least six points in each half, continuing to show his improvement from college at the three-point line by going 2/4. That was his fifth straight game of sinking at least one trey. Jones threw down a pair of fourth-quarter dunks to finish with 16 points on 5/8 shooting. Jonas Valanciunas notched 22 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans, but Boston bottled the center up late in the game after he’d scored 17 through three quarters.
BY THE NUMBERS
40.7: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field. The Pelicans scored just 17, 23 and 23 points in the final three quarters.
2/9: Pelicans foul shooting in the second half, compared to 9/9 prior to intermission.
57.5: Boston shooting percentage in the second half, compared to just 37.5 prior to intermission.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
Problem solved, at least in this game. New Orleans led 29-18 after a quarter and seemed to have a significant edge in energy over host Boston after a 12:30 p.m. local tip-off.
DEFENSE ON C’S
Excellent for a half, with Boston only scoring 39 points, but the Celtics got rolling during several stretches of the second, finally beginning to make jumpers and open shots after a brutal beginning in that category.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The starting wing spots are arguably Boston’s biggest strength, which meant New Orleans likely needed big performances from Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. Like his team, Ingram started quickly and gave Boston’s defense problems early, but ended up with a rough shooting day (6/19 from the field). Hart provided his usual “one-man band” drives to the rim on fast breaks, posting 13 points and nine rebounds.
Ingram turned in one of the best stretches of his NBA career during Week 13 of the schedule, making it no surprise that he was the dominant winner in fan voting for Pelicans Player of the Week. After averaging 26.3 points and 7.7 assists in games against Minnesota, the Clippers and Brooklyn, Ingram earned 78 percent of votes on Twitter. Previous winners were Week 1: Brandon Ingram; Week 2: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 3: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 4: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 5: Jonas Valanciunas; Week 6: Devonte’ Graham; Week 7: Brandon Ingram; Week 8: Brandon Ingram; Week 9: Devonte’ Graham; Week 10: Josh Hart; Week 11: Herbert Jones; Week 12: Herbert Jones.