Marcus Smart gets the start and delivers: The veteran guard started alongside Kyrie Irving for the first time this year with Jaylen Brown (sore tailbone) sidelined. The 25-year-old played a season-high 40 minutes in regulation, making life difficult all night for Jrue Holiday (eight turnovers) which set the tone for a much more complete defensive effort for the C's across the board. The Pelicans shot just 43 percent from the field and committed 22 turnovers, while Anthony Davis (8-of-19 FG) was held relatively in check by Al Horford and company. After an ugly few games last week, Smart appeared to fuel a more disciplined effort by the starters that helped them open up a 20-point first half lead and withstand the Pelicans' second-half runs.
An offensive masterpiece: There have not been many nights this season when all members of the starting five are running on all cylinders but it finally happened in New Orleans. While Smart (8 points, 5 assists) stayed out of the way, Irving (26 points, 10 assists) put on a show in the fourth quarter, Al Horford (20 points) had his best offensive outing of the year, Jayson Tatum (20 points) and Marcus Morris (18 points, 10 rebounds) all shot over 50 percent from the field and 3-point range collectively. The ball movement and shot selection were terrific all night long and minus an ugly turnover night from Irving (six), this was an encouraging effort.