Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson took what they hope will be meaningful steps in turning the New Orleans Pelicans’ season around, combining decisively to produce pivotal plays during a memorable comeback.
Ingram highlighted a 33-point performance by hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 33.3 seconds left in overtime, and New Orleans held on for 120-115 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday after rallying from 24 points down in the third quarter.
“Today was a day of encouragement,” Ingram said. “We just stayed together and everybody did things that they do well.”
Zion Williamson scored 24 of his 28 points after halftime and had 10 rebounds, four assists and a block for the Pelicans, who narrowly avoided losing for the sixth time in seven games. Josh Hart, who was instrumental in the comeback, had 17 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
“We stayed true to who we were. We rallied back,” Williamson said. “Everybody – coaches, players, ball boys – everybody was just engaged.”
Jayson Tatum had 32 points and nine rebounds, and Jaylen Brown scored 25 for the Celtics, who appeared to be cruising to their third victory in four games when Tristan Thompson’s free throws gave Boston a 79-55 lead in the middle of the third quarter.
“We kind of got away from what got us the lead, not moving the ball, guarding, and they stormed back,” Brown said. “This one definitely hurts. It’s tough. Just a tough loss – a game we 100 percent should have won.”
Added Tatum, “If we want to be a really good team, we’ve got to put teams away early, especially being up 20-some points.”
The Pelicans finished the third period on a 19-8 run, capped by Williamson’s layup after he drove nearly the length of the court to score with less than 2 seconds on the clock.
The momentum carried into the fourth. Williamson’s put-back dunk ignited a 10-2 run during which Hart scored eight. The spurt included his driving layup as he was fouled, a 3 and a reverse put-back after Lonzo Ball’s fast-break layup had been blocked by Daniel Theis.
New Orleans pulled even when Ingram’s transition 3 made it 98-all with 4:10 left, setting up a riveting finish to what had looked like a laugher.
The lead changed hands twice in the last 11 seconds of regulation, with Tatum draining a fall-away to make it 106-105 and Williamson hitting a layup as he was fouled to put the Pelicans up 108-106 with 6.9 seconds to go. Tatum then sank a driving floater in the final second to force overtime.
The game was tied at 112 when Ingram’s 3, set up by Williamson’s pass, put the Pelicans in front to stay.