New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for clutch win vs. Celtics

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Josh Hart of the New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Boston Celtics 115-109 on the road in a game that ended up being closer than it should have been.

The Pelicans pulled away early in the fourth quarter, only to go on a massive dry spell with a few minutes to go. After three and a half minutes without a single bucket for New Orleans, a three from Jayson Tatum brought the Celtics within a single possession. However, a clutch basket from Brandon Ingram and an ill-timed technical foul for Marcus Smart ended up sealing the win for Stan Van Gundy’s squad.

New Orleans remains 12th in the Western Conference after this win, just 1.5 games off the 10th-placed Golden State Warriors. Ranking among the top ten teams in the west would ensure the Pels a spot in the play-in tournament.

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But despite the relative stagnation in conference placing, the Pels have enjoyed a productive and encouraging month. Over their last ten games alone, they have picked up wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and now the Celtics.

There are caveats—the Lakers were without Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Mavericks didn’t have Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis, and Boston was missing Jaylen Brown—but wins are wins. No matter how you get them, they boost morale.

Here are the player grades for the Pels’ win against the Celtics, starting with my personal MVP:

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Boston Celtics: Grading the best player

New Orleans Pelicans. JOSH HART. A. . Wing

This is the first time I’ve given Josh Hart the best player of the game award since I started writing these grades, but it is well deserved.

Hart finished with a double-double off the bench, scoring 15 points and gathering 15 rebounds. He won’t get the headlines or the plaudits, but Pels fans know and appreciate what Hart brings to the table on a nightly basis.

The Villanova product enjoyed a scorching start to the game, scoring ten straight points without a miss. Hart was even throwing up heat check threes, unusual for him but logical given that it seemed like he couldn’t miss.

He was also crucial on defense, as is the norm. Hart dominated the boards, closing defensive possessions for the Pels and, at times, pushing off opponent misses. Lastly, he arguably sealed the game for New Orleans, getting a pivotal stop on Jayson Tatum with under a minute left in the contest.