Boston Celtics

Mazzulla: Jaylen ‘takes pride' in improved defense, guarding best players

"He can have a crazy impact on the game in many ways without scoring."

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The Boston Celtics put on a defensive clinic in Saturday's 104-92 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Jaylen Brown was arguably their biggest difference-maker on that end of the floor.

Zion Williamson started 4-for-4 from the field to help New Orleans take an early lead. From there, the Pelicans star was just 5-for-13 with Brown as his primary defender. That helped the C's outscore New Orleans 76-55 from the start of the second quarter on.

Brown's physical defense on Williamson was the latest example of the three-time All-Star taking it upon himself to guard the opposing team's best player. After the game, head coach Joe Mazzulla praised Brown for taking pride in the challenge.

"I think the difference this year is the pride that he takes in guarding whoever he needs to guard, depending upon what's best for that particular game," Mazzulla said of Brown. "Whether it's guarding a guard and chasing over in pick and roll and picking him up full court, or guarding a guy like Zion that he has to get high pickup points on.

"So I think he's understanding that he can have a crazy impact on the game in many ways without scoring and he's taken pride in that, and I think his defensive ownership has been big for us."

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Back in December, Brown expressed his desire to be named to the NBA All-Defensive team for the first time in his career.

“I feel like I’m playing some of the best defense of my career,” Brown said at the time. “I made a commitment before the season that I wanted to be First-Team All-Defense. I feel like I’ve been living up to that.”

By now, Brown's efforts on D should be recognized nationally and earn him consideration for All-Defensive honors. He has eight more regular-season games to leave a lasting impression on voters.

After improving to an NBA-best 58-16, Brown and the Celtics will wrap up their road trip Monday night in Charlotte.

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