Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Pelicans 116, Celtics 113: Boogie and The Brow end C's comeback

Josue Pavon
January 17, 2018 - 1:01 am

When the Celtics successfully erased two 10-point deficits in the second half and pulled ahead by five points in the final minutes of regulation, it felt like the making of another come from behind win. 

Only this time, the New Orleans tandem of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins got the best of the Celtics down the stretch, as the dynamic duo executed on both ends of the floor in a 116-113 overtime thriller over the Celtics at TD Garden.

Led by the the dueling dominant performances of their big men, the Pelicans demonstrated the formula to beating the Celtics: force Boston to shoot from the perimeter, take away the driving lanes and control the paint on both ends.

The Pelicans out-rebounded Boston 55-41, scored 50 points in the paint and forced 18 Celtics turnovers. Davis finished with a game-high 45 points to go with his 16 rebounds, while Cousins also notched a double-double (19 points, 15 rebounds). The third member of their Big Three, Jrue Holiday, finished with 23 points, including a 3-of-5 mark from deep. 

Though their finish was what drove the Pelicans late in Boston, Davis wasted no time in making his presence felt. He dissected the Celtics' defense down low, drained shots off the dribble, and tallied 17 first-quarter points while pulling down six rebounds. He tacked on 25 by halftime. 

Still, the Celtics only trailed by 10. 

Roaring back to begin the third quarter, opening the second half with an 18-6 run fueled by Kyrie Irving, who poured in 16 third-quarter points. The Celtics led by three towards the end of the frame at one point before the Pelicans finished strong and pulled ahead before the start of the fourth quarter. 

The comeback attempt seemed to be just a tease, though, as the Green fell behind by 10 again at the start of the final frame. 

However, when Brad Stevens turned to Irving with 7:14 left, the Celtics grabbed their first significant lead of the night -- a five-point (101-96) advantage -- when Daniel Theis connected on a 3-pointer with 3:54 left. The Celtics squandered their lead in the final minutes by sending Davis to the free-throw line -- where he went 2-of-3 and left a two-point window for Irving to drive in a game-tying layup that forced overtime.

The defensive stops by the Pelicans certainly translated into easy buckets for New Orleans. They not only forced 18 Celtics turnovers but they scored 50 points in the paint and made life hard for the Celtics' offense. 

"You gotta play the whole way through and tonight, obviously, it's a 53-minute game," Stevens told reporters after the game. "But I'll go back and watch but I'm guessing we didn't defend the way we wanted to for more than 10 or 12 minutes all night. So that was number one, and it kind of puts you in a tough spot. And then, you know, we had a drought there late where we had some good looks that didn't go and we had some possessions that weren't as good."

Boston reached a season-high in 3-pointers attempted (50) and while they did manage to drain 19 of them (which was also a season-high), the high volume of perimeter shots turned into fool's gold when Irving's potential game-tying 3-pointer clanked off the back rim and into the hands of the Pelicans.

With the win, New Orleans snapped the Celtics' seven-game winning streak.

Boston will look to bounce back Thursday night when they host the 76ers at TD Garden.

JBL Audio Stat of the Game: The Celtics' 19 3-pointers matched their most threes in a single game in franchise history (19,  Jan. 6, 2017 vs. Sixers). 

 JBL is the official audio of Jayson Tatum, the Boston Celtics, and the NBA. 

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