NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Boston Celtics won for the fifth time in seven games, 104-98 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
Louisiana native and former LSU star Brandon Bass added 17 points and Evan Turner had 14 for Boston. The Celtics hit 10 3-pointers on 23 attempts.
Anthony Davis had 29 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which lost for just the second time in eight games and missed an opportunity to pull into a tie with Oklahoma City for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Eric Gordon added 20 points and Tyreke Evans had 11 for the Pelicans. They shot a bit better than Boston, but committed 18 turnovers — leading to 20 Celtics points.
Jae Crowder, starting for the injured Celtics guard Avery Bradley, had 11 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Boston locked down on Davis in the third quarter, holding him to just one field goal and two foul shots. Bass, meanwhile, had nine of his points in the period, and Boston took a 71-68 lead into the fourth after Thomas lofted a driving layup over Davis’ outstretched arms as he was fouled by Norris Cole.
Those were the first points of the second half for Thomas, who was acquired from Phoenix at the NBA trade deadline last month, but far from his last.
He opened the fourth quarter by hitting three 3s as Boston surged to an 82-71 lead. The Celtics led by as many as 15 when Turner’s driving layup made it 93-78 with 6:01 to go, and New Orleans wasn’t able to get within single digits until the final minute.
Davis started strong with 10 points in the first quarter, highlighted by his two-handed dunk of an alley-oop lob that Quincy Pondexter launched from about 30 feet out. But the rest of the Pelicans started slowly and Boston dictated the pace early.
Thomas had 10 points in the first half on an array of drives and jumpers, and the Celtics led by as many as 11 when Kelly Olynyk’s free throws made it 40-29.
But New Orleans chipped away, closing to 43-39 on the first of two alley-oop dunks Davis threw down in the second quarter.
Davis reached 16 points in the first half on a jumper that briefly put New Orleans up by a point before Thomas’ free throw tied it at 47 heading into halftime.
Celtics: Boston swept the two-game season series. … Coach Brad Stevens said starting Crowder over the 5-foot-9 Thomas made for a better size matchup with the Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans, who like Crowder is 6-6. Crowder and Thomas each played more than 28 minutes. … Boston improved to 10-19 on the road.
Pelicans: Alexis Ajinca scored four points in about 10 minutes, marking the first time in seven games that he has scored less than double figures. … New Orleans fell to 21-11 at home.
Celtics: Visit Orlando on Sunday night.
Pelicans: Host Memphis on Saturday night.
This article was written by Brett Martel from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.