Celtics escape tight game against Pelicans, 104-97

Photo credit: Boston Celtics

By Tyler Sullivan Follow on Twitter @TylerSully 

There is maybe no team in the NBA more plagued with injuries than the Pelicans. Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday highlight the nine total players sidelined for New Orleans.

Which is why it was surprising that with less than a minute to go it took Amir Johnson to run over to Luke Babbitt, who was all alone under the basket, and block his shot from making it a one possession game.

That block swatted any chance of a Pelicans upset. On the following possession, Avery Bradley nails a a three, Jae Crowder hits some free throws, New Orleans makes one more layup for good measure and ballgame. Celtics 104, Pelicans 97 final.

Amir Johnson finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a pair of blocks in 25 minutes as the C’s starting power forward. Since fully recovering from his plantar facetious, Brad Stevens has really liked what he’s seen from Johnson.

The third quarter could be qualified as one of the more odd periods of the season for the green. It was a series of runs for both teams as New Orleans rolled to an 8-0 run, Boston responded by scoring 11 straight points only to be matched by an 11-0 run by the Pelicans.

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 32 points to go with his 8 assists and 4 rebounds. He also, as he usually does, gave the TD Garden faithful a few highlights to store in the memory bank. Emphasis on bank.

The Celtics were without guard Evan Turner (eye) and the bench struggled to find offense in his absence. Boston only managed to score 31 points off the bench while New Orleans’ bench was a major contributor in their ability to hang with the C’s dropping 51.

The Celtics also lost second year man Marcus Smart late in the game to an eye injury. The team is saying he received four stitches for a laceration above his right eye.

Before that, he was carrying some of the load left by Turner. Off the bench Smart had 11 points and stuffed the stat sheet with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Boston’s defense, anchored by Avery Bradley, was key in the victory. Bradley swiped 3 of New Orleans’ 22 turnovers to go with his 13 points.

Boston is currently tied with Atlanta for the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. They will try to extend their 3 game winning streak on Friday when they host the Bucks.

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