Marcus Smart stormed out of halftime with the Celtics trailing 64-55 after a 2-of-7 particular person taking pictures first half with affect. He blocked Zion Williamson on the rim, hit a operating two in transition, then drew three free throws within the early seconds of the third quarter. Kemba Walker and Grant Williams hit threes transferring the ball inside and outside, and Boston pulled again into the sport after an eight-point deficit. Late within the fourth, down by 13, Smart led the push again. He additionally bought ejected within the ultimate minute after one in every of his most perplexing performances ever.
All that occurred in a single evening, because the Celtics narrowly missed a comeback victory in opposition to the Pelicans, dropping 115-109 to start their seven-game residence stand.
The arrival of Evan Fournier didn’t instantly change the defensive fortitude, focus and consistency of the offense. In reality, he began 0-for-7 in his Celtics debut after escaping a two-week layoff to start his profession in Boston attributable to a false constructive. His runout following a steal within the third quarter became one in every of two missed layups on the evening, then Smart made one of the questionable performs in NBA historical past.
Payton Pritchard dove to chase an errant Pelicans cross to Brandon Ingram and fell to the ground, forcing a leap ball. Ingram and Pritchard each let the referees leap ball go at first, attributable to New Orleans solely having 0.3 seconds to shoot. Steven Adams bought able to race into the again court docket for Pritchard’s tip cross. Smart caught it as an alternative and launched it from half court docket over the basket as Kemba Walker regarded on together with the returning followers in shock.
Boston capsized following the miscue that epitomized the group’s normal inconsistency greater than being a singularly essential level within the recreation. Jayson Tatum began the evening 4-for-4, blazing from the sector round Robert Williams III excessive display motion for 3 early three-pointers. Fournier got here off the bench and the C’s flashed defensive depth by breaking apart Williamson drives on the rim 5 occasions.
The Pelicans stayed within the recreation behind a 10-of-16 begin from three. Rookie Kira Lewis peppered Boston’s protection with three within the first half and Williamson saved hello head down on the best way to the rim, end on two early second probability efforts to start the second half regardless of assembly heavy resistance as Boston dripped and Williams III chased blocks.
The referees let ample contact go all through the primary quarter and shortly cracked down, catching Moe Wagner undercutting Josh Hart whereas chasing an offensive rebound and handing him free throws on the opposite finish. Hart hit back-to-back threes after Aaron Nesmith missed a 3 and tossed an offensive rebound try and the Pelicans proper right into a transition run that separated them from the Celtics all through the sport. The Celtics, exterior an early Williams III play on an Ingram three try that despatched Tatum operating for 2, largely performed gradual.
Luke Kornet crammed in to start the second, flushing a pair of pick-and-pop threes, slamming residence a rolling dunk by way of a foul and later discovering Nesmith for 3 on the quick roll. He’s 7-for-11 from the sector to start his Celtics profession. Shooting proved an even bigger concern for his fellow newcomer, Fournier, and the longest tenured C in Smart and the misses fed into Boston’s defensive woes, outscoring Boston 15-6 on the break.
Tatum’s 14-point begin evaporated into six within the loss, attempting to separate himself from Ingram’s tight protection within the fourth together with his left arm that smacked Ingram throughout the face and drew a flagrant one foul within the third. Smart, after his personal third quarter blunder, dedicated a flagrant foul on Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
The Celtics had squandered 5 of their first six possessions into the fourth quarter, Fournier fell to 0-for-9 and appeared uninvolved except for a primary half quick roll cross to get Tatum and open three that he missed. Williamson set Alexander-Walker with a 3, Ingram with a reducing layup then drew free throws to go forward by double digits — two of New Orleans’ 23 to Boston’s 17.
Then Smart reappeared with three minutes remaining. He hit a driving layup, drew a cost on Zion, grabbed an offensive board and fed Tatum for 2 as Boston stormed again to inside 110-102 on an 8-0 run. Fournier momentarily stalled momentum leaning right into a three-point miss, the officers known as a foul on Williams III’s field out of Steven Adams, however Adams missed each free throws and Walker made a pull-up two the opposite manner that snuck over the rim.
Smart blanketed Zion on the opposite finish and compelled him to shoot off the facet of the again board. Tatum carried the miss over half court docket and compelled the ball inside to Rob, practically turning it over earlier than Williams regained management tip-toeing alongside the baseline and fired a cross to Tatum, who nailed a 3 to make it 110-107 4 minutes after the Pelicans led by 13.
The run reached 15-0 and Ingram lined up Tatum, leaped again into his shot from in entrance of the three-point line and delivered. Smart, who tried to attract an offensive foul on Adams on the following New Orleans in-bound cross, walked to the locker room 23 seconds early, ejected.
Smart and the 2021 Celtics, multi function.
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