BOSTON – Boston Celtics has routinely recovered from big deficits this season that after leaving another double-digit hole during Tuesday's New Orleans Pelicans visit, it was almost jarring to see they could not close the game.
For the 18th time in a game this season, the Celtics were delayed by two digits. Despite clearing a 12-point deficit while recovering in the fourth quarter, Boston could not distance the Pelicans, who saw Anthony Davis put another absurd statistic (45 points, 16 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday scored the last four points in overtime during a 116-113 win at TD Garden.
"We can not go back in each game," Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said. "It's as simple as that".
This was the 16th time in the season that Boston was down by at least 12 points. Although they came together to win nine of the previous 15 games, the Celtics could not defend themselves against Davis and the Pelicans.
New Orleans ran with a rotation of eight men while the well-rested Celtics, inactive since Thursday's game in London, could not close the game despite leading for five with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Holiday hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 1:26 to play in the fourth quarter, then New Orleans took the lead with free throws. Boston needed an Irving plate with 11 seconds to go into extra time.
Holiday hit a pair of pull-up jerseys 29 seconds apart at the end of overtime, and New Orleans kept Boston scoreless in the final 2:11 of the extra session.
"They felt pretty comfortable tonight about their offense and what they were doing," Irving said of the Pelicans. "They were making it difficult in the lane of my records and in our penetration.
" When you have two big ones like that in DeMarcus [Cousins] and Anthony, and Jrue is solid, and Rajon [Rondo] was also embedded. They were playing pretty well at a great pace. We were on our heels for a while until we started fighting. "
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has stressed in recent days that, although Boston has shown great resilience in rallying, he would prefer his team to start better matches and does not need a big deficit attention call.
Although Irving is second in the NBA on the clutch score with 104 points, only behind his former teammate LeBron James (117) , will regret some missed opportunities late in the game on Tuesday.
Lost a triple in a tie game with 1:09 to play in the regulation.Exposed a theft / foul combo, but then missed one of the free throws. with 39 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, but got a finger roll to tie and force the extra session.
Kyrie Irving works her way around Anthony Davis and sets up to empath play the game with seconds remaining in the regulation.
Irving missed three shots in the last 3: 26 overtime, including a triple that would have tied the game with five seconds to play.
"Just a little too much," said Irving. "You live with those results, but a lot of things happened during the game that took us to that point, we had to fight and do some things, we had a slow first half, but we fought and we gave ourselves the opportunity to take it to extra time and then equalize. We had some other opportunities to take advantage of that which did not go well for us, it's part of the game, so take it as a learning experience. "
Irving committed six of the 18 Boston turnovers, and his team, with 27 points, came with 24 shots. He added seven rebounds but only had two assists.
"I have to be much more definitive in my decisions because the teams try to duplicate me and take the ball from my hands," Irving said. "I just have to make the right moves, and sometimes hard shots will be taken by me, and I have to be ready to hit them, and if they're not there, then make plays for my teammates."