Pelicans Outlast Celtics in Wild OT Thriller
NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans guard Tyreke Evans stood at his locker just minutes after a 121-120 win over Boston and yelled out, “Wild game!”
How else could anyone describe it?
The Celtics came out with the short end of the stick but that result cannot take away from the great game we watched unfold at the Smoothie King Center. It has been said that the NBA is where amazing happens, and this game was chock-full of amazingness.
If you had any bit of intuition, you opted to disregard all records and tune in to watch the 22-44 Celtics take on the 26-39 Pelicans. These two teams squared off for four and a half rounds of basketball and gave us one of the greatest fights we’ve seen all season.
From clutch shots to a historic performance to a dramatic comeback to an additional period, this game had it all. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s time to relive it all.
Boston and New Orleans came out of the gates firing in the first half. They made the scorekeeper earn his pay as they combined to score 121 points on 53.8 percent shooting.
The offensive fireworks pumped some energy into a half-full arena and that energy stayed bottled up until things really got heated in the fourth quarter. The home team opened up the final period with an 18-4 run to pull ahead 102-89. The Celtics had fallen into a deep hole with five and a half minutes remaining, but they came together and climbed their way out of it.
Boston scored the next eight points of the game and continued to chip away at its deficit as the clock ticked down. The team had strung together an 18-8 run to climb to within three points when an absolute miracle happened with less than five seconds remaining on the clock.
Brad Stevens called for a timeout with 6.4 seconds left in the game and his team trailing by three. He could have never drawn up what happened next.
Jeff Green wound up with the ball in his hands at the top of the key on Boston’s ensuing possession. He rose up to take a potential game-tying 3-pointer and for some ungodly reason, Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu challenged the shot to a point of no return. Aminu made contact with Green, drawing a whistle that pierced the ears of Pelicans fans throughout the arena.
Green, who has been Boston’s big-shot maker all season long, stepped to the line for three free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining and a chance to tie the game up at 110-110.
“Just make the shots,” was the message Green had for himself as he toed the line. “Concentrate. Focus.”
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Tie ball game.
“Three straight free throws is a special deal,” said Brad Stevens. “If Anthony Davis wasn’t on the floor, we’d be happier and Jeff would have been the only one we’re talking about.”
Davis just so happened to upstage Green in just about every way possible during this game, highlighted by the next possession.
The second-year forward out of Kentucky had been scintillating all night long, so it was only fitting that the Pelicans would go to him in the clutch. Following a timeout, the Pelicans inbounded the ball and got it to Davis between the free-throw line and the 3-point line. He had only hit one of his three shots from that spot on the night, but this one was good from the moment it left his hand. Davis nailed the jumper to put New Orleans on top 112-110 with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Davis’ bucket sent the New Orleans faithful into hysteria. They weren’t only celebrating a near-certain victory, but also the fact that their prized youngster had just eclipsed the 40-point barrier for the first time in his NBA career. It was a moment to celebrate, and as we all know, New Orleans knows how to celebrate.
Unfortunately for them, that celebration was a bit premature. The Celtics had 1.4 seconds left to make some magic happen and they did exactly that.
Stevens called for yet another timeout and drew up his play for the final possession of regulation. As the players walked onto the court, Rajon Rondo threw a little wrinkle into Stevens’ play.
“Beforehand, Rondo just said, ‘Slip to the ball,’ when we were walking out,” Kris Humphries recalled.
Humphries listened to his captain, who was tasked with inbounding the ball. The big man slipped toward him along the sideline and caught an inbound pass in front of New Orleans’ bench. He caught the pass while moving to his left, turned and fired up what may be the most clutch shot of his career.
“I turned around and Anthony Davis is pretty long,” Humphries said, “so I just threw it up there and it went in.”
It took six clutch shots in just 4.9 seconds of basketball to get to this point. Green’s three free throws gave Boston a chance, Davis’ jumper snatched that opportunity away, and then Humphries took it right back. If that’s not amazing basketball, what is?
The Pelicans went on to squeak past the Celtics in overtime but not without one last push from Green. Boston’s leading scorer converted an and-one layup with 5.7 seconds left in the extra session to cut New Orleans’ lead down to one point. The Pelicans, however, were able to inbound the ball and run out the clock to deal the C’s a loss.
Evans led New Orleans to the win with five clutch points in overtime but his performance won’t outshine that of Davis. Davis outshined everyone, including Green and his 39 points.
Davis forced everyone to ping the record books after tallying 40 points, 21 rebounds and three blocked shots. He became the first player with a 40-20 game since Dwight Howard in 2012, and just the sixth player since 1985 to reach those numbers in a single game, according to basketball-reference.com.
He was the highlight of a wild game that featured amazing performances across the board. Boston may not have won, but boy, was Sunday fun.