NEW ORLEANS — It was a short and sweet description, right to the point.
How good is Anthony Davis?
“He’s scary good,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens offered that summary before his Celtics faced Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday at the Smoothie King Center.
And Davis, who turned 21 last week, lived up to that praise and then some, as he went for a career-high 40 points and a career-high 21 rebounds while leading the Pelicans to a 121-120 win, giving the Celtics their fourth straight loss.
Davis made 14 of 22 shots, and 12 of 12 free throws, and became the first player in franchise history to have at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in the same game.
His point total was the most anyone has scored against the Celtics this season, besting the 34 of Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and New York’s Carmelo Anthony.
“He’s unreal,” Stevens said. “I came into the game in January thinking he’s an All-Star, and I leave here after twice playing him saying, ‘If there’s 10 guys better in the league, I haven’t seen them.’ He’s really a special player.”
Davis said, “My teammates tell me that they feed off my energy and they want me to be great so, I can’t be timid and [need to] do whatever it takes to help my team win.’’
The Pelicans improved to 27-39 because of Davis, but he had some help, with 26 points from Tyreke Evans and 19 from Eric Gordon.
Davis didn’t score in OT but grabbed six rebounds.
The reason the Celtics’ ultimately loss? Another late-game mishap.
Forward Jared Sullinger missed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left in OT, but Jeff Green, who tied his season high with 39 points, converted a 3-point play with 5.7 seconds left that brought the Celtics within 1.
However, the Pelicans ran out the clock on their last possession as the Celtics failed to foul them.
“We were trying to foul,” said Kris Humphries, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds. “I think we did foul them a couple times and we weren’t able to get that call.”
Said Stevens, “We miscommunicated on a switch.”
It marked the second straight game that the Celtics have collapsed at the end, as they fell apart in the final two minutes in their loss to Phoenix Friday night.
Celtics captain Rajon Rondo, who had 14 assists, 8 rebounds and struggled with 6 points on 3-14 shooting, took the blame.
“I think we’re going to be in pretty much every game, as far as fighting wise,” he said. “But like I said, we keep coming up short. I’ve got to do a better job of finishing plays. I pretty much blame this one on myself again.”
It was the 11th defeat in the last 14 games for the Celtics, who fell to 22-45.
They also have lost 19 consecutive road games against Western Conference teams, including all 14 contests this season.
“It’s very frustrating, because we put ourselves in position to win the game,” said Green, who hit three huge free throws with 4.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 110.
After Green’s free throws, Davis hit a jumper with 1.4 seconds left from the free throw line.
“It’s hard to guard him, especially when he’s hitting that jump shot,” Green said. “I felt we played good defense on him, but he just knocked down the shots over us.”
The Celtics looked like they were done, but Humphries answered with a turnaround, fadeaway baseline jumper over Davis from the right corner at the buzzer to send the game into OT.
“I feel like it was ours for the taking,” Sullinger said. “After Hump made that shot it was like, ‘We have to win this game’ ”
In overtime, Sullinger made a huge 3-pointer with 1:16 left that pulled the Celtics to within 2, but he missed his next one, a wide-open attempt from the right wing.
“I’ve just got to get in the gym and make sure that when I get those same shots, I make them,” Sullinger said.
Overall, the Celtics shot well, hitting 12 of 26 from 3-point range.
Their shooting from long distance helped counter the Pelicans’ 70-46 edge in points in the paint.
“They dominated us inside the paint,” Rondo said. “When our bigs went to help, we weren’t able to get those guys off the glass. We’ve got to protect our paint, protect our house a lot better.”
Either way, it goes into the ledger as another loss.
“At least we played with better poise at the end of both regulation and overtime.,” Stevens said, referencing their late-game collapse against Phoenix. “We gave ourselves a chance to win on the offensive end.
“Guys got a couple stops, just not enough at the end.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.