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If I told you on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, after an embarrassing loss to the Rockets, that Paul Pierce would shoot 1-9 from the field and Nenad Krstic would score 0 points, you would probably assume that’s an automatic loss. For the first two and a half quarters, you would have been right, as New Orleans held a 15-point lead over the Celtics on Saturday night.
Down 56-41 through the first few minutes of the third quarter, the C’s went on a furious 23-6 run to end the third and take a 67-64 lead. With no offensive contribution from Krstic, the C’s leaned heavily on Glen Davis, who delivered with 20 points on 8-11 shooting and eight rebounds in the Celtics’ come-from-behind 89-85 win. Ray Allen added 20 points, including two clinching free throws in the waning moments.
“We played so poorly last night and we really just started the game the same way today,” coach Doc Rivers said. “It meant a lot to the guys to come back. They wanted this win.”
The only shot Pierce hit all game was a huge three-pointer late in the fourth. Otherwise, he was a part of the problem early on, as he could not find his groove at all. It was the team’s fourth game in six days, so that may have something to do with it. Despite the poor shooting, Pierce managed nine points and six rebounds.
While Pierce struggled, the bench came up huge. Doc Rivers featured a playoff-like rotation, using only Davis, Jeff Green, and Delonte West off the bench in relief of the starters. Combined, the three players amassed 39 points on 17-of-23 shooting. They outscored the Hornets bench 39-6 and were a big reason for the second-half surge.
“The energy level changed,” Davis said of the second half effort. “We started doing the things we know how to do best. We changed the tempo of the game and we made them uncomfortable in the things they had been doing.”
It was a rough night for anyone named Paul in New Orleans, as Hornets PG Chris Paul missed every shot (0-9) for only the fourth time in his career. He made it up in other areas though, grabbing seven rebounds to go with 15 assists. David West led all scorers with 32 points, while Marco Belinelli added a season-best 23 points on 8-13 shooting. Nice effort, but it wasn’t enough.
Assuming he’s healthy, expect the Celtics to start Shaquille O’Neal and use a playoff bench rotation of Glen Davis, Jeff Green, Delonte West, and Nenad Krstic (Carlos Arroyo could see some time as well). Shaq could return to the regular season lineup in the next few games.
How would you line up the C’s during the playoffs?
Big Baby was playing in his backyard Saturday night. The Baton Rouge native starred at LSU for three years before he was drafted by the Supersonics in 2007 (and was subsequently traded to the C’s in the Ray Allen deal).
The Celtics get little rest again, as they’ll be back on the court for a big showdown Monday night in New York against the Knicks. It’s the first time they’ll see Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in Knicks uniforms.