The Boston Celtics and the New Orleans Pelicans can relate to each other’s situation going into their game Saturday night in New Orleans.
Both are finishing a set of back-to-backs that started with a loss.
And both need to shoot better on Saturday if they expect to avoid another loss.
The Celtics missed 12 of their first 13 3-pointers, finished 7 of 36 from beyond the arc and shot 34.9 percent from the floor in a 108-92 loss at Atlanta on Friday. Boston had won seven of its last 10 games.
“It wasn’t a sharp game offensively, obviously,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “I didn’t feel like we shared the ball as much as we have been. I felt like we were more crisp with body movement and ball movement in previous games. We got bogged down a little bit.”
Jaylen Brown had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Jayson Tatum scored 20 to lead the Celtics, but they weren’t as efficient as Udoka would have preferred.
Brown made 2 of 9 3-pointers and Tatum, who had made a combined 16 3-pointers in the previous two games, was 2 of 8. They combined for 12 turnovers.
Still, Boston trailed by just one point with more than nine minutes remaining before the Hawks went on an 18-2 run. The Celtics missed 12 of their first 16 shots in the fourth quarter.
“We settled for some tough shots,” Udoka said. “We settled for some threes or turned the ball over. It’s pretty much that simple. I didn’t love our execution as much in the fourth as in the third.”
The Celtics trailed by 15 points at halftime, but outscored Atlanta 30-18 in the third quarter.
“We got back in it with our defense in the third,” Udoka said.
The Celtics bench was outscored by the Atlanta bench 46-17.
The Pelicans shot just 38.9 percent from the floor, including 5 of 34 on 3-pointers, in a 116-105 home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.
“We’ve got to keep taking shots with confidence,” coach Willie Green said. “That’s all it is. We did a great job of creating quality shots for each other, moving the ball, attacking the paint, getting to the foul line. We’ve just got to step up and knock them down.”
New Orleans, which had won eight of its previous 10 home games. played without Brandon Ingram (ankle), who leads the team in scoring and assists, and Jonas Valanciunas (non-COVID illness), who leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring. They’re both questionable for Saturday.
Herbert Jones scored 19 points (his second-highest total in his rookie season), Willy Hernangomez added 18 points and 16 rebounds in Valanciunas’ place, Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 18, Josh Hart had 16, Devonte’ Graham 15 and Jaxson Hayes 13.
“We forced 21 turnovers and scored 26 points off those turnovers,” Green said, “but we came up short against a really good team. The beauty of the NBA is we get to come back again tomorrow night.”
The Celtics overcame an 18-point first-half deficit to defeat the Pelicans 104-92 on Jan. 17 in Boston.
–Field Level Media