In the process, they lost shooting guard JJ Redick to one of the more bizarre ejections of the NBA season.
In the midst of rallying from a 24-point second-half deficit, Redick picked up a pair of technical fouls that resulted in an early trip to the locker room. The first occurred with 11:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Two quick technicals result in Redick's ouster
With the Pelicans on offense, Redick appeared to believe that he got fouled on a pass and immediately turned around to complain to official Josh Tiven. Whatever Redick said, Tiven didn't appreciate it. He waited for the play to end with a Zion Williamson layup and whistled Redick for a technical foul.
On the next Pelicans possession, Redick drew a foul that was called at the top of the key. At the stoppage in play, he passed the ball to Tiven, who immediately whistled Redick for his second technical foul, which comes with an automatic ejection.
Redick briefly protested before leaving to the locker room.
What prompted Tiven's whistle?
So what happened there? Audio and video from the game broadcast doesn't indicate that Redick said anything to Tiven before the second technical. On his pass, he put some English on the ball, which bounced at an angle and hit Tiven in his left leg.
Tiven said after the game that the "force" of the pass drew the whistle.
"The second technical was for throwing the ball in the direction of an official with force," Tiven told reporters.
As for the first? Redick used “profanity directed at an official in resentment to a no call,” per Tiven.
Sunday wasn't the first time this month he's drawn the ire of an NBA player. Trae Young lit into Tiven after not getting a foul call in a critical late-game situation in a Feb. 10 Atlanta Hawks loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Were Pelicans better off without Redick?
The loss of Redick didn't hurt the Pelicans. It might have even sparked them. New Orleans trailed, 79-55 with 6:27 left in the third quarter, appearing well on their way to a home loss. But from that point, they outscored the Celtics by 24 points in regulation to force overtime, where they secured a 120-115 victory.
New Orleans cut the 24-point deficit in half by the time Redick got ejected and went on to dominate the fourth quarter with a 34-21 advantage on the scoreboard. Redick struggled from the field on Sunday, hitting 1 of 4 field goals while missing all three of his 3-point attempts.
He may have added more value in firing up his teammates than with his play on the court.
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