NBA Wrap February 22nd
IMAGE: Fox Sports
PELICANS RALLY FROM 24 DEFICIT TO TOP CELTICS IN OVERTIME
Facing an insurmountable mountain to climb - down 24, the New Orleans Pelicans rallied and recorded its greatest ever comeback in franchise history.
Young stars Brandon Ingram had 33 points, and Zion Williamson scored 24 of his 28 points in the second half to go with 10 rebounds as the Pelicans toppled the Boston Celtics in overtime 120-115.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 32 points, including the floater to send the game into overtime, while Jaylen Brown had 25 points and 9 assists for Boston who slip back to an even .500 for the first time since December 25.
Boston after an even opening began to extend its lead as it reached double-figures with 4:23 left in the opening half – getting out to a game-high 24 (79-55) with 6:29 left in the third when Tristan Thompson made a pair of free throws.
With a mountain to climb, the Pelicans sprung into action as Williamson after enduring one of his worst fist halves in his short career began to truck his way inside the paint, while Ingram found his touch from the midrange and three point territory.
Their brilliant offensive displays helped New Orleans fuel together a 43-19 run to tie the contest at 98 when Ingram made a running triple with 4:11 remaining.
On the next possession, the Pelicans would complete the turnaround and take its first lead since the opening term when Williamson made an excellent pass to Nicolo Melli who sunk a wing triple.
However, the Celtics regathered their composure with Tatum giving the green team a one point lead when he left Josh Hart on skates hitting the 18-footer with 11 seconds left. Zion was not to be undone making a quick move to his favoured left side where he made the layup and was fouled converting the three point play to take back the lead for the Pelicans.
Using their last full timeout, the Celtics turned back to Tatum to come up trumps, and he did in the clutch receiving the inbounds pass, going deep into the lane landing a tough floater in traffic with only 0.2 seconds on the clock.
Overtime was as gripping as the final 12 minutes of regulation, until Ingram made the biggest shot of the game knocking down a three with 34.4 seconds remaining, ultimately completing a stirring comeback against the odds.
HARDEN, IRVING GUIDE NETS IN A THRILLER PAST CLIPPERS
Brooklyn appeared to have the contest in their reach up 15 with 10 minutes left, however they faced a few nervous moments down the stretch to come away winners.
James Harden had 37 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, while Kyrie Irving finished with 28 points and 8 assists as the Brooklyn Nets swept a five-game West Coast trip clipping by the Los Angeles Clippers 112-108.
Paul George led the Clippers with 34 points and 7 assists but sat out the final minutes, while Leonard had 29 points and 13 rebounds.
The game came down to one play with the Clippers down two and the ball in Leonard’s hands. The 2-time Finals MVP got the step on Harden and easily got to the rim to lay it in, but fate fell the Nets way as he was adjudged to have pushed off him with his left forearm ultimately ending the hopes of a comeback.
Brooklyn held much of the momentum, apart from mini spurts from the Clippers as the Nets high-powered offence clicked into gear. When sharpshooter Joe Harris made a triple early in the fourth the Nets had inflated its lead to 15.
Not to be rattled by the situation, the Clippers behind its two superstars Leonard and George took command as it began to find cracks in the undersized Nets defence.
Leonard levelled the contest at 108 with 28.6 seconds left on a pair of free throws. Coming out of a timeout, Brooklyn went to an isolation play using a pick and roll switch with Kyrie Irving picked up by Terance Mann.
Identical to his triple he made in the 2016 NBA Finals Game 7, Irving went to the step back triple only his shot not to fall, but the biggest player on the court DeAndre Jordan in a crowd of Clippers players got his giant left hand to tip in the miss.
His pivotal play helped set the stage for a fantastic finish for two teams expected to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Earlier in the game, both teams found its groove offensively with Harden and Irving combining for 25 of the Nets 28 points first quarter points, while Leonard started out smoking scoring 14 points in the period.
In other results around the Association:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put on an excellent display all-round finishing with 31 points and 9 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to a tenth consecutive loss winning 117-101.
Nikola Vucevic dominated inside and outside scoring 37 points pulling down 12 rebounds, while Evan Fournier had 29 points and the Orlando Magic won its third game in a row beating the Detroit Pistons 105-96.
Fred VanVleet finished with 23 points, while Pascal Siakam also had 23 as the resurgent Toronto Raptors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 110-103 for its fourth successive win.
Aussie superstar Ben Simmons back after missing two games due to illness led the 76ers with 28 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Joel Embiid posted 25 points and 17 rebounds.
Julius Randle had 25 points and 14 rebounds and the New York Knicks almost squandered a 20 point fourth-quarter lead before holding on to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 103-99.
Trae Young scored 35 points and 15 rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Denver Nuggets 123-115.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was on a tear finishing with 38 points and 18 rebounds, while Khris Middleton had 32 as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Sacramento Kings 128-115.
By Juri Bilcich