Celtics fall to Pelicans in close game, 106-105

The Celtics, still shorthanded from injuries, fell to the Pelicans in their third game in four days, 106-105. Boston was led by Isaiah Thomas (37 pts, 7 ast, 3 reb) as Al Horford and Jae Crowder remained sidelined. Anthony Davis (25 pts, 16 reb, 4 stl, 2 blk) and an unlikely Langston Galloway (21 pts) carried the Pels over the Celtics who were searching for their third straight win.

Boston attempted nearly double the three pointers than New Orleans did (41-21), and shot 29% from behind the arc. The biggest difference between the teams was at the charity stripe. Boston attempted only 20 free throws over the course of the contest, compared to the Pelicans 36.

First quarter:

The C's jumped out to an early lead over Anthony Davis and the Pelicans as Avery Bradley (19 pts, 10 reb) piled up points in the first few minutes. AB scored the first bucket for Boston on a slick drive to the rim. Throughout the quarter, the Celtics would start to pull away, but a relentless New Orleans squad pounded the paint to stay in the game. Boston saw solid contributions from Jordan Mickey, and Jaylen Brown, especially in transition:

Trailing by six with about three minutes left in the quarter, Davis knocked down a mid-range jumper to cut the deficit to four, 23-19, Boston. That would begin the 7-2 run that pulled the Pelicans ahead going into the second frame. That was the last time the Celtics led until the fourth. 12 minutes in the books, Boston down 26-25.

Second quarter:

The second quarter was a fist-fight. It was a period of short runs that saw New Orleans develop small leads, but a mostly back-and-forth battle that included a heroic flop by Marcus Smart (15 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 4 stl), who had a solid statistical night:

That foul gave the Celtics the opportunity to claw back to within 2 with nearly three minutes left in the quarter, but the Pelicans ended the frame on a strong note, heading into the locker room with a 5-point lead, 56-51 N.O..

Third quarter:

Coming out of the half, New Orleans came out swinging. Fueled by Davis, the 5-point deficit quickly ballooned to 14 in just two and a half minutes. That 9-point run was punctuated by a three-pointer by Dante Cunningham with 9:44 to go, 65-51 New Orleans.

The Celtics kept clawing back at the deficit, but the Pelicans would answer a Boston run with one of their own. Isaiah Thomas brought the C's to within 2 with 5:37 left, but that was the last time the Celtics were within striking distance until the fourth.

Terrence Jones (15 pts, 10 reb) and Solomon Hill (9 pts, 7 reb) surged the Pelicans to a 14-6 run that ended the quarter with New Orleans up 10, 84-74 Pelicans.

Fourth quarter:

It looked like the Celtics turned it around coming out of the break, as Terry Rozier sank a three to open the fourth, and Jaylen Brown worked his way to the free throw line the next possession, cutting the deficit in half. The quarter stayed a back-and-forth, and with 8:34 left in the final frame, the Pelicans picked up their fifth team foul, putting the Celtics in the bonus for the rest of the game.

The Celtics continued to chip away at the lead with a steal by Thomas leading to a fastbreak finish on the other end. 4-point game with 8:02 to go, 93-89.

Then, neither team could find the bottom of the net. A two and a half minute scoring drought for both squads, with the exception of a single made free throw by Terrence Jones over that stretch.

That drought was ended by a putback tip-in by Amir Johnson off the miss by Isaiah that made it a 1-point game and then the following offensive possession, Bradley worked his way to the rim to give the Celtics their first lead since the first quarter, 99-98 Boston.

Then, a bad play by Kelly Olynyk gave the Pels a fastbreak bucket to retake the lead, but the little guy, Isaiah Thomas, decided it was time to put the Celtics on his back and nailed a three with just under 2:00 to go, 102-100 Boston.

1:31 and Kelly Olynyk commited the foul on Anthony Davis, who knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 102 a piece. Boston wasn't able to capitalize on the following possession, even with a second chance opportunity and the game remained knotted at 102. :37 to go, Boston ball, timeout Brad Stevens.

Coming out of the timeout, vintage Stevens set, Isaiah comes running from the backcourt and drew the foul on Anthony Davis. Missed the first, but rattled in the second giving Boston a 1-point lead with :33 left in regulation.

1-point game and Anthony Davis drove to the basket, put up a floater, front-rimmed, grabbed his own board and drew the foul on Amir Johnson. At the line with a chance to retake the lead with 24.7 left, Davis sank both, 104-103 New Orleans. Boston ball.

The C's went for the lead with 15 seconds to go, AB put up a three, and the ball found it's way out of bounds off of the Pelicans. On the inbound, Marcus Smart turned it over and Tim Frazier was fouled immediately by Johnson.

Frazier couldn't hit both free throws, though, keeping the Celtics within 2 with 14.8 to go, 105-103 New Orleans.

Isaiah got the ball, worked his way around the defender and put up an easy layup off the glass to tie it up at 105, but following possession, Tim Frazier sold a pump fake, got Olynyk off his feet and drew the foul with 2.5 left. Frazier sinks one of two and misses the second. 1.9, no timeouts, Boston ball trailing by 1.

Inbound is deflected out of bounds and the buzzer sounds, but refs decided to take a look at the clock to see if there was any time left on the clock, giving Stevens a chance to draw up a play.

The refs put .1 on the clock, but couldn't convert the hail mary and fall to the Pelicans 106-105.

Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports.