Sunday, March 31, 2024

Celtics 104, Pelicans 92: Jayson Tatum leads C's past New Orleans to snap two-game skid

The Celtics got back on track to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 104-92 at Smoothie King Center Saturday night and snap a two-game skid.

Jayson Tatum scored a team-high 23 points on 10-of-17 from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range to go along with nine rebounds, while Krisptaps Porzingis recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds. Jaylen Brown added 17 points, six assists and Derrick White chipped in 15 points to help improve the C's to 58-16 on the season.

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds, while CJ McCollum notched 24 points, five assists and Herbert Jones added 18 points for New Orleans -- who had won six of their last eight coming into this matchup. Brandon Ingram also missed a fifth straight game with a bone bruise in his right knee

Boston trailed 37-28 after the opening quarter, before going on a 21-12 spurt to start the second and knot it at 49 with 3:13 remaining in the half on a Brown 3-pointer. With 59-57 advantage at the break, the Celtics went on a 18-8 run and held New Orleans to only 11 points overall in the entire third period, to go up 83-68 heading into the final frame.
"They definitely hit us first," C's coach Joe Mazzulla said. "Our guys did a great job keeping their poise and responding the way we know how to with our defense and our offensive execution."
The Celtics eventually led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter after limiting New Orleans to 4-of-23 from the field in the third, including Williamson -- who was guarded by Brown and missed all five of his shot attempts. The Pelicans went scoreless on 0-of-6 from the floor and turned the ball over three times in the final 4:37 of the third period.
"Jaylen did a nice job of making it very difficult for him [Williamson]," Mazzulla said. "He still got his average on free throws, but we kept him out of transition, kept him out of the paint and the guys on the perimeter did a great job of showing help on Zion and making him give up the ball early."
Porzingis also had four of the team's seven blocks on the night, as the Pelicans were held to 39.5% from the floor and were 11-of-18 (61.1%) on free throw attempts.
"That has to be our identity defensively," Porzingis said in his postgame comments. "The guys [on the perimeter] do everything up until that point, and when the opponent gets to the rim, they meet me. We played at a very high level."
The Celtics conclude their sixth-game road trip (3-2) Monday night when they fly to Charlotte to face the Hornets (18-56). Tip-off is at 7:00 pm ET. 

Game Notes:

Boston connected on 47.6% from the field, including 15-of-37 (40.5%) from deep, while the Hornets were 13-of-35 (37.1%) from long distance. The C's won the battle of the rebounds 51-41 and outscored the home team in the paint 38-36. The Celtics dished out 27 assists (13 turnovers) on 39 baskets and Charlotte handed out 22 dimes (nine turnovers) on 34 made shots. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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