Three points are better than two. The Boston Celtics used that simple formula in New Orleans Monday night, responding to a late run by the Pelicans by heating up from beyond the arc at Smoothie King Center.
After trailing by as many as 20 points, the Pelicans battled back and made it a 93-87 ball game at the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter. However, the six-point deficit was as close as New Orleans would get to the Celtics, who were able to separate themselves with four 3-pointers over a five-possession stretch.
Al Horford hit the first triple at the 8:06 mark off of a Kyrie Irving assist to put the C’s back up by nine points.
Anthony Davis would respond by slamming home an alley-oop pass from Jrue Holiday, but Irving answered back with a bomb from beyond the arc to give Boston a 10-point lead.
Darius Miller then knocked down a two-point jumper, however, Horford would convert another trey on the Celtics’ next possession, putting them on top by 11.
Solomon Hill retaliated with a put-back layup on the other end, but the Celtics responded once again via the 3-ball, this time off the hands of Gordon Hayward, who put his squad ahead by 12 points with 6:14 remaining.
Despite the fact that both teams went shot-for-shot during that stretch, Boston was able to use its prowess from beyond the arc to create separation. That turned out to be all the space the Celtics would need, as they powered through to a 124-107 win with a whopping 19 3-pointers logged along the way.
Sore left knee? What sore left knee?
That was the injury that sidelined Al Horford Saturday night in Dallas, but by Monday night, he was running rampant in New Orleans.
Horford returned to action in great fashion, pouring in a season-high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-4 clip from downtown.
The veteran big man also chipped in four rebounds, three assists, three steals (also a season-high) and a blocked shot, and he only turned the ball over once during 32-plus minutes of action.
On the defensive end, Horford faced the arduous task of guarding Anthony Davis. While Davis scored a game-high 27 points, Horford helped hold him to just 42.1 percent shooting, and also played a role in forcing Davis to commit five turnovers.
It was as difficult of a matchup as Horford could’ve possibly endured coming off of a short injury absence, but he lived up to the challenge while guiding Boston to a big win on the road.
Box Score Nuggets
- For the first time this season, the Celtics had three different players reach the 20-point mark – Kyrie Irving (26), Al Horford (20) and Jayson Tatum (20).
- Anthony Davis tallied game-highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds.
- Nikola Mirotic logged 19 of his 25 points during the second quarter.
- The Celtics shot 19-of-39 (48.7 percent) from 3.
- On top of his 26 points, Irving also had 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals.
- New Orleans had more turnovers (22) than assists (21).
- Jrue Holiday turned the rock over eight times.
- The Pelicans made 29 trips to the free-throw line, while the Celtics only attempted 10 shots from the stripe.
- Mirotic hit half (six) of his team’s (12) 3-pointers.
- Jayson Tatum finished with a game-high plus-29 rating.
- Boston limited New Orleans to 34 points in the paint. The Pelicans entered with the NBA’s highest average (59.3) in that category.
Quote of the Night
We looked a lot like the team we were last year. That was encouraging.
Al Horford on the win.
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