Boston Celtics

Celtics-Pelicans takeaways: C's dominate on D in bounce-back win

Boston's lockdown defense was the key to victory in New Orleans.

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The Boston Celtics snapped their two-game skid Saturday night with an impressive road win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Boston didn't match New Orleans' energy out of the gate, trailing by as many as 11 points in a sluggish first quarter. Something clicked for the C's in the second frame, however, as they erased the deficit and capped off the half with a deep Derrick White go-ahead buzzer-beater:

Derrick White gives the Celtics their first lead of the night with a deep buzzer-beating three in New Orelans

From there, it was all Celtics. They locked the Pelicans down defensively and didn't relinquish their lead for the remainder of the game, going up by as many as 22 points in their 104-92 victory.

Boston improved to 58-16 on the season after dropping two straight games to the Atlanta Hawks. It took down a red-hot New Orleans squad that entered with 10 wins in its last 13 games.

The C's had their top 10 active for the first time since March 7. All five of their starters scored in double figures with Jayson Tatum (23 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (19 points) leading the way.

Zion Williamson (25 points) and CJ McCollum (24 points) were the Pelicans' high scorers in the losing effort.

The Celtics will wrap up their road trip Monday night when they visit the Charlotte Hornets (18-55). First, here are three takeaways from Saturday's game.

A defensive clinic

The Celtics didn't look like themselves defensively during their two losses in Atlanta. They allowed 120+ points in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 8-11.

Their struggles carried into Saturday's action as they allowed the Pelicans to score 37 points in the opening quarter. From that point on though, they locked in.

Boston erased an 11-point deficit and took the lead at the half after allowing only 20 second-quarter points. The team's defensive effort went up another notch in the third when it held New Orleans scoreless for a four-and-a-half-minute stretch and allowed only 11 points in the entire quarter.

The Celtics totaled seven blocks and seven steals in the win. They held the Pelicans to 39.5 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from deep.

Kristaps Porzingis stars on both ends

Porzingis made up for a rough showing in Atlanta with a stellar all-around performance in New Orleans.

The Celtics big man notched a double-double with 19 points -- the second-highest total on the team -- and 10 rebounds. He couldn't find his groove from 3-point range (1-for-6) but shot 5-for-8 from inside the arc and hit all six of his free throws.

Porzingis also dished three assists, but his defense at the rim was among the biggest contributors to Boston's second-half surge. The most memorable moment came early in the third quarter when he swatted away two consecutive Zion Williamson attempts:

The 7-foot-3 Latvian finished with four blocks and two steals. When Boston buckled down defensively down the stretch, he was at the center of it all.

An All-Defensive effort for Jaylen Brown

Starring alongside Porzingis on the defensive end was Jaylen Brown, whose defense has taken a significant step forward this season.

Brown was banged up early on. He tweaked his knee after slipping on the court, hurt his wrist while scrambling for a ball, and fell to the ground holding his knee after slipping for a second time.

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Fortunately for the Celtics, he battled through those ailments and stayed in the game. He played a key role in the victory with his physical defense on Zion Williamson. After starting 4-for-4 from the field, Williamson went just 5-for-13 the rest of the night with Brown as his primary defender.

Brown was a difference-maker offensively as well. He had the third-most points on the C's with 17 (11 in first half) on 6-of-16 shooting (3-of-4 from deep. The 27-year-old also tallied seven rebounds, six assists, one block and a steal.

This game served as yet another reminder that Brown will deserve All-NBA Defense recognition at season's end.

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