Zion Williamson dribbles vs. Daniel Theis

Panzura postgame wrap: Pelicans 120, Celtics 115 (OT)

Pelicans (13-17), Celtics (15-15)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans erased a 24-point second-half deficit, posting one of its best victories of 2020-21 – and without a doubt, its most dramatic – overtaking Boston in overtime Sunday.

Trailing by a point in the final minute of OT, New Orleans benefited from the rarest of calls – a double lane violation – to score four points on the same possession, a huge sequence in a comeback win. After Brandon Ingram made a free throw to tie the game, Nicolo Melli and a Boston player were whistled for the violation, resulting in a jump ball. New Orleans won that and regained possession to set up Ingram for a three-pointer and 115-112 edge with 33 seconds to go. The Pelicans made enough free throws from there to secure a comeback win in the Smoothie King Center.

“We kept fighting,” first-year head coach Stan Van Gundy said of the comeback. “No one dropped their heads (about being down 20-plus points). We were resilient.”

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Ingram sank two free throws with 3.3 seconds left in overtime, sealing the win. With no timeouts remaining, Boston didn’t attempt a shot after that, letting the clock run out. Prior to that, Josh Hart joined Ingram in making critical foul shots for New Orleans. Up by three with time ticking down in OT, the Pelicans fouled Jayson Tatum on purpose, a strategy that paid off handsomely when Tatum missed the first shot and intentionally misfired on the second, but only got backboard and drew no rim, a violation.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Zion Williamson scored a go-ahead and-one layup in the final seconds of regulation, giving New Orleans a two-point lead, but it didn’t hold up as the game-winner when Tatum made a tough floater. He and Ingram started slowly but ended up producing numerous key plays during the comeback and extra period, combining for 61 points.

Player of the game status should probably go to the entire unit that was on the floor for a lengthy stretch of the fourth quarter and OT. In addition to Williamson and Ingram, the group also featured Melli, Hart (double-double) and Lonzo Ball (16 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals). Van Gundy noted afterward that the game's numerous replay reviews in the fourth quarter and OT gave those five players some needed rest, allowing the coach to keep sticking with them as an effective lineup.

"It was a big win for us because we stayed true to who we were," Williamson said. "We rallied back. Everybody – coaches, players, ballboys – everybody was just engaged and we needed all that energy, and we pulled through."

BY THE NUMBERS

17:00: Playing time for Melli, his most since Jan. 15. He has only played in four February games out of the team’s 12. Although the second-year NBA forward shot just 1/7 (all from beyond the arc), the threat of his three-pointer helped space the floor and create driving lanes for Williamson.

2: Technical fouls on JJ Redick over an 18-second span of the fourth quarter, resulting in an ejection for the longtime NBA shooting guard. Redick’s exit and second tech seemed to inspire both his teammates and the limited-capacity crowd of 1,940.

7-23: New Orleans record through 30 games last season. Of course, that was right around when the Pelicans got red-hot, putting themselves in position to earn an invite to the NBA bubble in Orlando.

19-0: Boston edge in points off turnovers in the first half. That category changed in favor of New Orleans after that.

Revisiting three keys to victory

DYNAMIC DUOS

A matchup between the only two teams with two top-20 NBA scorers ended up essentially in a draw, after Boston held a big edge in the first half-plus. Tatum and Jaylen Brown outscored Williamson and Ingram by a 30-17 margin prior to intermission, but the final count was New Orleans duo 61, Boston duo 57.

NO BOSTON THREE PARTY

Defensively, New Orleans would happily accept Boston’s three-point afternoon of going just 10/37 (27 percent) in every single game this season. Tatum and Brown sank three apiece, but needed a total of 17 attempts.

TEST OF DEPTH

Like many aspects of this matchup, things went much better for Boston’s bench in the first half than the second. The Celtics were up 18-9 in bench scoring at halftime, but it ended up being Pelicans 29-25.

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