The Boston Celtics have struggled this season due in large part to shortcomings from their key players.
Kyrie Irving has yet to consistently be the game-breaker that he’s more than capable of being, while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown haven’t yet taken the next step that so many expected them to.
And then there’s Al Horford.
While the C’s never have relied on Horford to stuff the stat sheet since his arrival to Boston, he’d been awfully quiet through the first 20 games of the season. But with a massive challenge in front of him Monday night in New Orleans, Horford rose to the occasion.
Horford scored a season-high 20 points to help the Celtics grab a 124-107 win over the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. The veteran forward also did fine work on Anthony Davis. “The Brow,” as he always does, still got his with 27 points and 16 rebounds, but Horford made it tough on his interior counterpart all night.
It was somewhat of a redemption game for Horford, who logged just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in the Celtics’ ugly loss to the Mavericks. But whereas Boston faltered late Saturday night in Dallas, it powered through Monday.
“We were able to sustain a full game, we’ve talked about that,” Horford told Amanda Pflugrad, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics postgame coverage. “This is a team we knew we were going to have our hands full, they have great players. We really pulled together for this one.”
Horford also delivered in the clutch, knocking down a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers to help put the game out of reach. Horford, expectedly, didn’t take much credit for his efforts down the stretch, though.
“Just being in the right positions,” Horford said. “My teammates gave me some great passes there and I knocked down some shots.”
Horford is the glue that keeps everything together for the Celtics, who will need their seasoned veteran to keep playing at a high level if they hope to string wins together.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Celtics-Pelicans game:
— Marcus Smart was elevated to the starting lineup in the absence of Brown, who was dealing with soreness after his hard fall Saturday. Smart played a game-high 39 minutes, scoring eight points with five assists.
— The Pelicans committed 22 turnovers, their second-worst mark of the season.
— Tatum matched Horford’s 20 points, while Irving notched a team-high 26 points. It’s the first time the trio each has scored 20-plus points in a game this season.
— Irving did a lot more than score the basketball Monday, which allowed him to join impressive company in Celtics history.
— Boston halted New Orleans’ home winning streak at five games.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
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