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Fast Break: Avery Bradley, Celtics can’t hold off Pelicans

In an ugly but entertaining game, Avery Bradley [1]‘s contested go-ahead layup attempt ricocheted off the rim in the final seconds against the Pelicans, and — after a pair of Brian Roberts [2] free throws — Jared Sullinger‘s game-tying 3-piont attempt sailed wide, as the Celtics [3] fell short against New Orleans at home, 95-92.

The Celtics [3] (13-20) lost their second game in as many nights and third straight — a killer for a team headed on a five-game-in-seven-nights West Coast trip against the Thunder, Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors and Nuggets on Sunday.

Bradley (22 points) led the Celtics [3] in scoring while Sullinger (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Brandon Bass [4] (16 points, 11 rebounds) each notched double-doubles. Jeff Green [5] (16 points) also reached double figures.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Cold start: Whether it was the frigid temperatures, the same-day trip from Chicago or just plain stagnant offense, the Celtics [3] scored just 13 points in the first 10 minutes against a team that allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions entering the game. Bradley scored seven points (3-5 FG) in that stretch, but his Celtics [3] teammates scored only six (3-11 FG) — including a zero-point, zero-rebound start for the ailing Sullinger.

The Stiemer: Battling a knee injury, old friend Greg Stiemsma [6] hadn’t scored in double figures all season — until his glorious return to Boston. No Stiemboat whistle sounded in his honor, but the 7-footer who found his way back into the NBA under Kevin Garnett [7]‘s tutelage scored 12 points on seven shots in 19 big minutes off the bench.

Ryan Anderson [8]: In a scary moment that deserves mention, the Garden crowd sat in silence despite a 75-73 C’s lead early in the fourth, as Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson [8] lay motionless on the floor following a head-to-head collision with Gerald Wallace [9]. Considering all that Anderson’s been through [10] already this season, it’s no wonder every player on both sides of the ball stood in support as paramedics carted him off in a neck brace on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a cervical stinger.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Two-way Avery: Remarkably, Bradley continues to state his case as the Celtics [3]‘ best weapon on both sides of the ball. A returning All-Defensive selection, his prowess on that end is indisputable, and his shooting has been nothing short of stellar. He entered the game shooting 42 percent on corner 3-pointers, 45 percent on midrange jumpers and 56 percent at the rim (up from sub-50% earlier in the season), and Friday night’s effort (7-15 FG, 4-6 3P) only helped his cause.

Mega Bass: Since totaling a trio of double-doubles in a six-game span in mid-December, Bass slumped to averages of 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds over his previous four games, but the broad-shouldered big man bounced back with his fourth double-double of the season against Anthony Davis [11] and the Pelicans. Likewise, Sullinger shook off the effects of his hand injury to notch his second straight double-double.

Board room: The Pelicans are one of 14 teams out-rebounding their opponents, but the Celtics [3] did a nice job keeping their bigs at bay, grabbing 22 offensive boards and scoring 28 second-chance points. Kris Humphries (7 points, 12 rebounds), Bass and Sullinger all reached double figures on the glass and combined for 21 offensive boards, as the Celtics [12] out-boarded the Pelicans, 49-45.