The beginning felt like the makings of a signature regular-season win for the Boston Celtics — taking on the New Orleans Pelicans on the road — but in the end, it turned out to be the utter opposite.
The Pelicans erased a 24-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime; where New Orleans outscored the Celtics 12-7 and captured a 120-115 win over Boston.
The historic victory marks the biggest comeback win in Pelicans franchise history.
New Orleans Pelicans Erase 24-Point Deficit, Turn In Greatest Comeback Win In Franchise History
It’s the first time New Orleans has ever won a game in which they trailed by as many as 24 points.
Turning an 11-2 deficit into a double-digit advantage midway through the second frame; the Celtics were firing on all cylinders.
Jayson Tatum (17) and Jaylen Brown (13) combined for 30 first-half points and by halftime Boston’s lead had ballooned to 16 (43-47). By the 6:29 mark in the third quarter, a pair of free-throws from Tristan Thompson pushed the Celtics to their biggest lead of the night — 24 — then, came New Orleans.
Brad Stevens On Pelicans’ Defense: ‘They Were Super Aggressive In Pick-And-Roll Coverages’
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson scored 24 of his 28 points on the night, in the second half. After a 1-of-4 start, he and All-Star forward Brandon Ingram took turns scoring as they meticulously chipped away their deficit and compelled the Pelicans to outscore the Celtics, 61-45 in the final 24 minutes of regulation.
“Think it started at the end of the third,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said after Sunday’s loss. “I thought that they were super aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverages, as you know they would be. Really blitz, which they’ve done a lot in games. They put us on our heels — in that, we eventually handled that better. We were never able to hit the big shot or two to keep the lead where it was as they were coming back.”
Tatum, who finished with a team-high 32 points on 10-of-24 attempts, including 3-of-7 from deep, connected on a devastating 18-foot stepback to push the Celtics ahead by one (106-105) with 11.4 left to play.
Then, his driving floater found the bottom of the net with only 0.2 left on the game clock — which forced overtime.
Brad Stevens On Celtics’ Defense: ‘Williamson & Ingram Put Their Shoulders Down And Got Where They Wanted To Go’
But for Stevens, this game wasn’t lost on the offensive end of the floor.
“On the other end of the floor, they spread us out and drove us right to the rim,” Stevens added. “There are times where we could have done a lot better. We had a couple of major errors in transition. Obviously, at that time. But, there were times where we could have handled the drives better. But, there were also other times when Zion Williamson and (Brandon) Ingram put their shoulders down and got where they wanted to go.”
Ingram finished with a game-high 33 points on 11-of-21 from the floor and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He and Williamson combined for 12-of-16 from the charity stripe.
The Celtics’ three-game road trip will continue in Dallas when they take on the Mavs, Tuesday night and conclude against the Hawks in Atlanta on Friday.
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