Zion Williamson, Pelicans Rally from 24 Down to Top Jayson Tatum, Celtics in OT

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans' Brandon Ingram advances the ball up court against the Dallas Mavericks during an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

After trailing by as much as 24 points, the New Orleans Pelicans came back to defeat the Boston Celtics 120-115 in overtime on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a 33-point day from Brandon Ingram.

New Orleans, which entered having dropped five of its last six, got back in the win column over the similarly skidding Boston Celtics, who have now gone 3-6 in their last nine games.

Ingram tied the game at 98 with four minutes left to play, and consequent back-and-forth play led to overtime. 

Jim Eichenhofer @Jim_Eichenhofer

#Pelicans have deficit down to 5 after they trailed by as many as 24 https://t.co/UkJB1phVr7

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

"for the tie - YES!!!! TUNE IN 📺: ABC 📻: @ESPNRadioNOLA https://t.co/xGQx8cvE2W

For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum dropped 32 points, but it wasn't enough for Boston to hold on to the victory. 


Notable Performers

  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 32 PTS, 9 REB
  • Brandon Ingram, Pelicans: 33 PTS, 6 REB
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics: 25 PTS, 9 AST
  • Zion Williamson, Pelicans: 28 PTS, 10 REB


Celtics Stifle Zion to Start

Boston's defense has managed to hang on by a thread in the absence of two-time All-Defensive selection Marcus Smart, who has missed the team's last 11 games while nursing a calf strain.

To start the season, Boston ranked 12th in the league in defensive rating (108.9), though the team was also missing four-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker for a portion of that stretch. In games since Feb. 2, when Smart missed his first game, the Celtics are 14th at 112.2. 

While they've maintained their standing in the middle of the pack, they were tested against another of the league's top scoring duos in Zion Williamson (who entered Sunday averaging 25.0 points per game) and Brandon Ingram (who entered with 23.6 points per game). 

It was Ingram who took off in the first half, leading the Pelicans alongside Lonzo Ball with 13 points each, but the rest of the starting lineup—Williamson, Willy Hernangomez and Eric Bledsoe—were limited to just four points each.

Jim Eichenhofer @Jim_Eichenhofer

Lonzo Ball nails his third straight three-pointer, giving him 11 pts. This is his 12th consecutive game of double-digit scoring, the first time he's done that in #NBA


For Williamson, that was his lowest half point total of the season. 

Jay King @ByJayKing

Tristan Thompson has done a great job on Zion so far. Zion doesn't feel many guys who are defending him, but Thompson has held his ground.

Will Guillory @WillGuillory

Gotta give Boston a lot of credit for the way they defended Zion in that half. Held him to 4 points on 1-5 shooting, forced him into 3 turnovers and only allowed him to get 3 free throws. Pels gotta find a way to free him up in the 2nd half.


Boston's defense faltered in the second half as Williamson recovered to end the afternoon with 28 points en route to the overtime victory—enough to wonder what would have happened if Smart was around. 


Pels Overpower Boston's Sharpshooters

The Celtics boast a pair of high-efficiency scorers in likely All-Star reserves Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, both of whom are averaging upward of 25.6 points per game—among the league's best. 

It was a dangerous time for the New Orleans defense to be meeting them. Amid the team's skid, the Pelicans defense has faltered, allowing opponents to score more than 123 points in each of their five recent losses. Where they struggle the most is from beyond the arc, allowing 40.9 three-point attempts per game, ranking second-most in the league, and 16.3 makes from deep (a league high). 

The Celtics, meanwhile, are among the best in the NBA from three, with a 37.7 three-point percentage that ranks ninth.

In the first half, the Pelicans were able to limit the Celtics to six makes from deep, but Boston still found other ways to capitalize.

Jim Eichenhofer @Jim_Eichenhofer

Celtics are only 5/18 on three-pointers, so that hasn't been the problem defensively for #Pelicans, but Boston getting a few too many straight-line drives right to the rim, including a couple this quarter by Tatum and Pritchard. Bos 58-44 late 2Q

Tatum entered the break with a game-high 17 points, going 5-of-11 from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the line, while Brown was right behind him with 13 points on 2-of-7 shooting from deep (4-of-15 from the field) and three perfect free throws. 


The Pelicans came alive in the second half to stop the bleeding and were successful in doing so, but if they had the defense to step up from the start, they wouldn't have had to play from behind. 

What's Next? 

The Celtics take on the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. 

New Orleans will host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.


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