Davis-led Pelicans slip past Celtics

BOSTON — The New Orleans Pelicans’ ability to heat up on the road has been as cold as the frigid, single-digit temperature outside TD Garden in Boston on Friday night.

The Pelicans entered Friday with a 5-11 record away from home and just one win to show from their previous seven road games.

But the visitors were able to bury shots that didn’t fall in a New Year’s Day loss at Minnesota, and departed Boston with a 95-92 win over the Celtics in a closely contested game.

Leading by a point, New Orleans managed to survive a missed Celtics shot with eight seconds left in regulation and hold on to a nail biter in Boston.

Coach Monty Williams noted that the Pelicans weren’t as sharp they normally are, due in part to the fact the team wasn’t able to practice like they were scheduled to. He also pointed out that the Celtics were on a similar hectic schedule — the home team’s flight arrived in Boston at noon CST following a flight Friday morning from Chicago.

“We had a rough couple of days, tough loss in Minnesota,” said Williams. “Then, we were going to practice and we had to get out of Minnesota, so we’ve been ripping and running a lot like (Boston).

“I thought we weren’t sharp because we haven’t practiced, but that was no excuse for the sluggish play in the first half.”

New Orleans (15-16) lost its leading scorer this season early in the fourth quarter during a scary moment. Forward Ryan Anderson went down after colliding with Celtics forward Gerald Wallace on an inbounding play. After staying down for more than 10 minutes, Anderson left the game on a stretcher. Anderson is being evaluated for a “cervical stinger,” according to a Celtics team official.

Forward Anthony Davis was concerned when he saw Anderson fall.

“It was tough,” said Davis. “It’s a sad situation. You never want to see one of your guys go down, especially one of your leaders. We’re just praying for him, but at the same time we knew we had a job to do to try and win the game. From that point on, you’re just trying to win it for him.”

The Pelicans shot a strong 56.4 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting just under 50 percent. But Williams said that the Pelicans’ ability to finish a tight contest late in the game was the difference.

“Down the stretch we just found ways to make plays,” said Williams. “All game they killed us on the boards. It seemed like all game they were getting second chance points. We struggled there, but just found a way to grind it out and get a big win.”

Despite having a height advantage in the paint Pelicans were never able to fully dominate close to the basket. The visitors were outrebounded by the Celtics, 49-45, and gave up 28 second-chance points.

Davis, who finished with a game-high 23 points, didn’t find his first rebound until the third quarter. He finished with eight boards.

Center Greg Stiemsma, who has been injured for a large part of the season, scored 12 points after starting the game with only 16 points on the season. His presence was welcomed following Anderson’s exit with 11 minutes left in regulation.

The Celtics (13-20) shot just 34.8 percent from the field. Former LSU star Brandon Bass was one player who found success early on, making his first six shot and finishing with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).

New Orleans will travel to Indiana for a 6 p.m. tip-off against the Pacers. They will then travel to Miami for a game Tuesday night to conclude the four-game road trip.

“We’ll deal with Indiana tomorrow,” said Williams. “(We’re) just thankful for the win.