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Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans.
Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss.
“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”
Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth.
And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists.
Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success.
But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus).
And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.
“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”
And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics.
But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play.
And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.
Certainly, more points and rebounds would help.
But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score.
That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it.
Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone.
“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”
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Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-89 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Anthony Davis: The Boston Celtics had no answer for how to contain Anthony Davis who got anything and everything he wanted, all game. He finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 14-for-24 from the field.
Jayson Tatum: The Celtics didn’t get many players who elevated their play against the Pelicans, but Tatum did. He led the team with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
Rajon Rondo: It was vintage Rondo – few points, lots of assists and with that, a huge impact. The former Celtics All-Star had 11 assists with just one turnover, to go with four points.
Marcus Morris: He finished with 17 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Morris prides himself on an inside-outside scorer, but he really should have focused more on his 3-point shot when you consider he was 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
Cheick Diallo: You're always suspect of a player you rarely heard of putting up big numbers in a blowout. But let’s be clear: Diallo’s scoring was on display when Sunday’s game was relatively competitive. He would finish with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
Fourth Quarter Celtics: It was a dismal stretch of play no matter how you cut it. Boston shot just 20 percent from the field in the fourth (4-for-20), 25 percent from 3-point range (2-for-8) while allowing New Orleans to shoot better than 50 percent in the quarter (10-for-19, 52.9 percent).
Abdel Nader: There were several things that went wrong for the Celtics in the fourth, but few stand out as much as Abdel Nader’s struggles from the free throw line. A 72-percent free throw shooter this season, Nader was 2-for-8 from the line which included him missing five in a row.