NEW ORLEANS – Don’t let the 124-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans fool you.
The Boston Celtics had to put in some work to get this win, the kind of work we haven’t seen them put in with any kind of consistency.
It involved them playing with more fight, more toughness, and doing so for a much longer stretch.
And even when the Pelicans made moments in the fourth when the game’s momentum wasn’t clear, Boston seemingly had the answer: we got this.
Whether it was Kyrie Irving hitting a jumper, Jayson Tatum attacking and finishing at the rim or Al Horford raining 3’s, Boston managed to do exactly what they needed to do to not just win but remind us all why so many believed – and still do to some extent – they are one of the league’s premier squads.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 19-point win over the Pelicans (10-11) in a battle of 10-10 squads.
Anthony Davis: We went into the game feeling as though he would be the most dominant player on the floor, and Davis did not disappoint. He led all scorers with 27 points to go with 16 rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocked shots. But other than that, he was OK (sarcasm, folks).
Kyrie Irving: He got his usual bundle of buckets (26 points) and had a really nice game getting others involved with 10 assists for his fourth double-double this season. But it was the season high-tying five steals Irving tallied that was impressive. And that doesn’t take into account how he balanced fighting over and under screens all game long.
Marcus Morris: The ability to play inside and out continues to be a Marcus Morris strength this season. He consistently found mismatches and the Celtics went to him often and he made the Pelicans pay. He would finish with near double-double of 19 points on an efficient 8-for-14 shooting from the floor to go with 11 rebounds.
Nikola Mirotic: He has been a steady source of offense for the Pelicans this season and Monday was no exception. He would finish with 25 points which included six made 3’s.
Al Horford: He had a really strong first quarter, scoring 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting. But Big Al was really strong down the stretch, hitting a couple 3’s that stymied the growing momentum the Pelicans were feeling prior to those makes. He would finish with 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting.
Julius Randle: The idea of the Lakers giving this guy away for nothing remains a head-scratcher considering his age and talent. Randle continues to provide great energy and scoring off the bench, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds for the Pelicans.
Marcus Smart: The stats don’t always tell you how impactful a player is. That was indeed the case on Monday night with Marcus Smart. He finished with 8 points along with three assists. But more than anything, Smart’s insertion into the starting lineup gave Boston an edge that they needed to get the win.
New Orleans turnovers: Boston turned up the heat defensively most of the night, and that seemed to be enough to make the Pelicans wilt under the pressure. The Pelicans committed 22 turnovers which led to a whopping 32 points for Boston. You can’t compete let alone win, when coughing up the ball that much.
E’Twaun Moore: For once, a former Celtic doesn’t come back to kill them when playing for another team. Moore, drafted by Boston with the 54th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, had one of his worst games this season. He scored five points on 2-for-7 shooting, tallying as many assists (2) as turnovers (2).
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