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- New Orleans (26-39) has lost two straight largely because it couldn’t hold onto fourth-quarter leads. Against Memphis on Wednesday, the Pelicans blew a six-point lead when it scored only four points in a five-minute span, allowing a 12-4 Grizzlies run. Friday night, Portland outscored the Pelicans 10-2 in the final 4:07 of the game. It’s a part of the team’s growing pains, coach Monty Williams says. “You can’t be in a rush to win games,” he said. “That’s something that young teams go through. You can have the lead with a few minutes to go, you’ve got to play the way we played close games before when we closed games out.”
- The Pelicans have relied on second-year forward Anthony Davis for much of the season, but these past five games he has been even more remarkable than usual. He’s averaging 30.8 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. But Williams said there’s more the sophomore can improve on. “His focus,” Williams said. “The last game, he went for pump fakes against Dorell Wright and it is something that the coaches had talked to him about and he actually fouled Dorell on a 3-point shot.”
- Boston (22-44) will have use of Rajon Rondo tonight because it’s the front end of a back-to-back. The Celtics’ point guard hasn’t played the back end of back-to-backs since returning from injury in January. Meanwhile coach Brad Stevens said Avery Bradley will come off the bench again tonight like he did against Phoenix on Friday. But Stevens said depending on how Bradley’s right ankle feels after tonight, he might be able to take Rondo’s spot in the starting lineup Monday at Dallas. Bradley is averaging 14.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 47 games.
- Stevens was complimentary of forward Brandon Bass, a Baton Rouge, La., native who played collegiately at LSU. Bass, who is averaging 11 points and 5.8 rebounds this season, will go up against New Orleans’ Davis. Regardless of the outcome of the matchup, Stevens said he hopes the younger players on Boston’s roster watch and learn from Bass. “Of all of the guys, he’s probably one of our best pros with regard to how he gets himself ready,” Stevens said. “Every single night you feel like you know what you’re going to get from Brandon Bass. It’s a credit to him.”
- This being St. Patrick’s Day weekend, New Orleans is awash in green for the string of parades and parties that fill the city’s calendar. But Pelicans coach Monty Williams, generally a lover of the color green because he went to Notre Dame, is a bit conflicted about seeing so much Irish pride today. “ “I do enjoy seeing everybody dressed in their green,” Williams said. “Except on this day, when we’re playing the Celtics.”
– Bradley Handwerger