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After a slow start to Monday's matinee on MLK Day, the Boston Celtics came to life in the second half. They cut down on turnovers, going from ten in the first two quarters to four in the final two frames, they consistently attacked the basket, scoring 26 points in the paint, and they got stops and steals, leading to 12 points off turnovers.

Late in the third quarter, the Celtics leveled up, going on an 8-2 run to close the frame, taking their first lead of the game in the process. They then seized control in the fourth quarter.

Here's what stood out from Boston's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, a victory that at 23-22 brings the occupants of the 10th-seed in the East to a game over .500.

Sluggish Start by the Home Team

The Celtics were not ready for a game that tipped off at 12:30 EST. After a Jaylen Brown layup with 4:53 left in the first quarter, they didn't make a field goal for the rest of the frame. Conversely, the Pelicans, who relentlessly pushed the pace, ripped off a 10-2 run and went into the second quarter with an 11-point lead.

When halftime arrived, the Celtics were shooting a frigid 15/40 (37.5 percent) from the field, including 5/21 (23.8 percent) from beyond the arc, and they had ten turnovers compared to nine assists. Fortunately, they went on a 12-2 run to end the second quarter, which allowed them to go into the break only down by seven.

In the Second half, Aaron Nesmith Capitalizes on His Opportunity

One member of the Celtics' second unit who stepped up in the second half was Aaron Nesmith. The former lottery pick earned himself 19 minutes of floor time, not only because of his energy, but he made a few nice plays off the dribble, getting into the paint before feeding Enes Freedom down low, resulting in a foul and two made free throws. He also attacked a closeout and banked in a runner, then followed it up with a fast-break jam through contact off a dime from Jayson Tatum.

Nesmith proceeded to make the free throw. He finished with five points on 2/4 shooting, six rebounds, and was +16.

A Tale of Two Halves for Jayson Tatum

In the first half, Tatum had six points on 2/7 shooting, didn't have an assist, and registered a plus-minus rating of -8.

NOP vs BOS on 01_17_2022

In the final two quarters, the All-Star wing made a living in the paint, scoring 21 points while consistently attacking the basket and making seven of his 11 field goals. He also dished out three assists and earned a +20 plus-minus rating. He got going in the third quarter, then took over the game in the final frame, scoring 12 points on 4/5 shooting, dishing out two of his three assists, and going 4/5 at the free-throw line.

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Celtics Level Up Late

The talent gap between the Celtics and Pelicans allowed the home team to get away with waiting until the late stages of the third quarter to raise their quality of play.

With 33.8 seconds left in the third quarter, Dennis Schroder drained a three that put Boston ahead 69-67 for its first lead of the game. He and Tatum closed out the third quarter on an 8-2 run, which snowballed into a 30-9 stretch to help carry the Celtics to victory.

Schroder scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, shooting 7/11 from the field, including 2/3 from beyond the arc, and he had five of his nine assists, three of his five rebounds, and no turnovers in the final two quarters, registering a +19 plus-minus rating. He was +21 for the game.

Though it felt quiet, Jaylen Brown had 12 of his 23 points in the second half. His scoring output came on 8/17 shooting, including 3/7 (42.9 percent) from three, went 4/4 at the line, and grabbed eight rebounds.

Up Next

The Celtics host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7:30 EST. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game coming out before, during, and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for updates and analysis from pregame to post.

Further Reading

Film Room: Celtics' Ball Movement at Its Best in Win vs. Bulls

What Stood Out in Celtics' Loss vs. Sixers: Boston Not Ready for Measuring Stick Game

Brad Stevens Discusses Possibility of Celtics Bringing Back Isaiah Thomas

Report: Celtics Express Interest in Jeff Green and Jalen Smith; Evaluating Both Options

Should Jaylen Brown be the Celtics' Closer?

Trade Options for a Celtics Team in Need of Shooters

Celtics' Trade Options Part II: Facilitators