BOSTON (AP)Jayson Tatum scored 27 points and the Boston Celtics erased an 18-point first-half deficit with a 104-92 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.
Tatum scored 21 in the second half to help Boston rally for its fifth win in six games.
Dennis Schroder and Jaylen Brown each had 23 points, Al Horford scored 12 and Grant Williams 10 for Boston. Tatum and Brown each had eight rebounds and Schroder added nine assists with five boards.
”It was an early game and we didn’t come out the right way,” Schroder said of both the early afternoon tip-off and slow start. ”At halftime, it was keeping everybody accountable and saying: ‘You’ve got to play with more energy.’ I think that’s what we did in the second half. We got easy buckets on the offensive end and shared the ball. ”
New Orleans center Jonas Valanciunas recorded his 30th double-double this season with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Herbert Jones had 16 points and Brandon Ingram had 15 points with 10 rebounds.
The Pelicans fell to 6-17 on the road.
Tatum slowly walked down the hallway from the locker room with the rest of his teammates for the start of the second half, then spurred a 22-7 run.
”It looked like we woke up at halftime a little bit,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. ”Overall, the offense really woke up, playing with the pace we wanted to and taking care of the ball.”
Tatum hit a jumper and followed that with a conventional three-point play. He added a crowd-pleasing fast-break dunk after a steal and Aaron Nesmith had a baseline drive for a dunk, got fouled and made the free throw, putting Boston ahead 85-74 with 8:04 to play.
”The ball got really stagnant (for us) in the second half,” Ingram said. ”That was definitely part of it in the fourth quarter. In the third, they made a little bit of a run and were really aggressive.”
The Celtics completely erased the large deficit, taking their first lead of the game on Schroder’s left-wing 3 late in the third quarter and led 71-69 entering the final quarter.
The Pelicans had opened a 42-24 lead with just over four minutes left in the second quarter and led 46-39 at halftime.
”Give credit to the Celtics,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. ”I think they stepped it up in the second half.”
Pelicans: Started fast and opened a 17-6 lead in the game’s initial six minutes. . They led by 12 points late in the second quarter despite shooting under 40%.
Celtics: Robert Williams III was sidelined due to personal reasons. The 24-year-old revealed on Instagram that he’s preparing for the birth of a child. . Marcus Smart remains in COVID-19 protocol. . Brown was whistled for a technical in the second quarter. . They entered with an exact opposite home/away record. They were 14-8 at home and 8-14 away from TD Garden.
Schroder said the early start was a challenge.
”For me, I woke up at 8:30,” he said. ”That was tough.”
The Celtics missed 16 of their initial 18 on 3-point attempts with Brown, Romeo Langford and Nesmith putting up shots that didn’t even hit the rim. Nesmith’s hit off the side of the backboard.
With Robert Williams and Smart out, Udoka inserted Grant Williams and Schroder into the starting lineup.
Pelicans: At the New York Knicks on Thursday night.
Celtics: Host Charlotte on Wednesday night. Boston won the first meeting in overtime on Oct. 25.
More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports