It's hard to complain about much as a Celtics fan these days, but man, this was a rough one. The C's appeared to have the game pretty much in hand through a good part of the fourth quarter, then squandered a double-digit lead thanks to some poor decision-making and lackadaisical defense and ended up dropping this one to the Hornets, 113-106. I'm not really sure where this one went wrong: generally speaking, nobody on the Celtics played particularly badly, and while Leon was unfortunately neutralized by some shaky officiating (4 PFs in 12 min), the C's still shot 56% to NOLA's 50% and commanded the boards by a 44-29 margin. Turnovers weren't so pretty, 20 for the C's against 9 for those other guys, and too many of those came in a fourth quarter when were outscored 32-17. Doubly painful is the fact that we were oh-so-close to sweeping a road trip that was unquestionably the toughest stretch of the season; while I don't think this loss changes the Celtics' position as provisional title favorites, a win would have served as some pretty delicious icing on the proverbial cake.
From an individual standpoint, this game belonged to New Orleans' criminally underrated David West, who poured in 37 points while more or less singlehandedly keeping his team in the game for most of the night. Chris Paul had a relatively unspectacular outing (19 points and 7 dimes) but made some absolutely huge plays down the stretch. For the losing side, Pierce had 28 while Rondo added 23, and KG notched a double-double with 19 and 12.
All in all, it's hard to complain; this road trip's featured some of the best ball played by the Celtics all season, and that's saying something. And make no mistake: New Orleans is DAMN good, and must be reckoned with in the vaunted Western Conference playoffs. Things get easier (to say the least) for 2 1/2 weeks, so try and remember these glory days of basketball purity when you're watching Scalabrine log 40 minutes against the Knicks a few weeks from now.