NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis picked up his dribble along the baseline and pulled up for a tough, 14-foot fallaway as he was fouled by Celtics rookie Abdel Nader.
As the shot fell through to cap another big night for the Pelicans' All-Star, the crowd rose to its feet and Davis exchanged high-fives with fans along the sideline before making his foul shot. It seemed a fitting punctuation to the type of performance New Orleans will continue to need to survive a tight Western Conference playoff race.
Davis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and New Orleans beat banged-up Boston 108-89 on Sunday night.
"It was a good bounce-back game for us," Davis said, referring to New Orleans' 107-101 loss a night earlier to Houston. "A tough one last night, and then come in (against) the No. 1 defensive team and score on them, but then hold them to under 100."
Second-year pro Cheick Diallo had a season-high 17 points and fellow reserve Nikola Mirotic added 16 for New Orleans, which was desperate to win after dropping four of its previous five while in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. The victory pulled the Pelicans into a tie with San Antonio and Utah for fifth, with Minnesota a half-game back in eighth.
Davis' crowd-pleasing fallaway with 3:35 left capped a 22-6, fourth-quarter run to blow open what had been a tight game for most of the first three quarters.
Davis said contributions from reserves allowed the starters to get more rest and be fresh for that decisive run.
"We defended and then we were pushing the pace, got into the offense a little early and were able to make some plays," Davis said.
Davis also threw down his share of crowd-pleasing dunks, some of which were set up by lobs from former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who finished with 11 assists.
Davis "dominated tonight," said Boston forward Al Horford, who was Davis' primary defender. "I'll definitely take the blame for that."
Jayson Tatum scored 23 for Boston, which has lost three of four and was playing its third straight game without either All-Star guard Kyrie Irving (sore left knee) or guard Marcus Smart (sprained right thumb). Marcus Morris scored 17 and Terry Rozier 13 for the Celtics, who scored only 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting in the fourth quarter.
"For whatever reason, I thought we looked a step slow, but obviously, we are going to have moments where we struggle to score with this group right now," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We also rushed some shots and then they got into that rhythm and got it going. (The Pelicans) have been a good offensive team all year and they were hard to stop."
Celtics: Irving had been listed as questionable coming in, but coach Brad Stevens said the club doesn't want to push Irving to play through pain at this point and wants him closer to full health. ... New Orleans native Greg Monroe, who chose Boston over his hometown club when he was briefly a free agent this season, scored 12, his third straight game with at least that many. ... Horford finished with six points, less than half of his average.
Pelicans: F Solomon Hill made his season debut after recovering from surgery in August to repair a torn hamstring. He played eight minutes and finished with one assist. ... Shortly before tip-off, the NBA announced that Gentry was fined $15,000 for criticizing officials after Saturday night's loss to Houston. ... Davis had his 80th career game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds since joining the NBA in the 2012-13 season. ... G E'Twaun Moore scored 11 points.
The game appeared to change after Gentry was assessed a technical foul for a second game in a row after a three-shot foul was called against one of his players.
On Saturday, it was Holiday defending James Harden. Against Boston, it was Ian Clark defending Nader. That gave Nader four foul shots, but he missed all four with Boston trailing 82-76 early in the fourth quarter. The crowd grew more boisterous with each miss.
New Orleans then quickly scored on Mirotic's hook shot. Minutes later, the Pelicans led by double digits and were pulling away.
RAISING THE ROOF
Diallo's production earned him almost 24 minutes in a reserve role and he made sure to enjoy it, celebrating with a raise-the-roof gesture after one dunk, and then crossing his forearms in the Wakanda Forever salute from the film "Black Panther" after another.
Veteran teammates seemed amused, although Holiday joked that his feelings were a little hurt after one dunk.
"I was mad. He ran by me," Holiday said. "I tried to give him a high-five, and he kept on doing the Wakanda sign."
Celtics: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
Pelicans: Host Dallas on Tuesday night.
More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Posted on Mon, March 19, 2018
by By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer