As the New Orleans Pelicans’ starters were introduced at TD Garden on Monday night, the first four were mostly met with indifference. Then star big man Anthony Davis’s name was called, and there was an ovation.
Those fans were aware that a Davis sweepstakes could materialize this summer, and if it does, they wanted him to know he would be welcomed with open arms here.
Davis will have an opportunity to sign a super-max extension with New Orleans after this season, but if he declines, the team would probably consider trading the All-Star as he enters the final year of his deal. And if that happens, there will be no shortage of suitors, including the Celtics.
Davis offered another reminder of what he is capable of, finishing with 41 points. But his team was handed a 113-100 loss by the undermanned Celtics, dropping to 14-15 on the season.
When Davis went to the bench with about three minutes left in the game, he received another roar that was not quite as loud, but still clearly noticeable. Davis was asked about it afterward.
“I heard it tonight,” he said. “But I’m just focused on this team. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It’s been a rocky season, so it’s on me to try to figure it out.
“I know the team follows me. I’m the leader, and I’ve got to be the one to make sure that we’re ready to play every night.”
Davis was then asked if there was something about TD Garden or about Boston that brings out the best in him. Once again, he deftly declined to take the bait.
“It feels like every other stadium,” he said. “On the road I have to come out aggressive. Any time you’re on the road, you’re at a disadvantage. My team follows me. If I’m playing with a lot of energy, they will, so I try to come out very aggressive on the road and let those guys follow behind.”
The Pelicans are well aware of the subplot surrounding their team, but coach Alvin Gentry said before the game it has not been a distraction this season.
“It doesn’t distract us at all,” Gentry said. “That’s a question you’d have to ask [Davis], but right now he’s under contract and playing for us, and that’s all we worry about. We try to worry about winning games, and that’s it. That’s going to take care of itself when the time comes, so it’s not a distraction at all.”
Injuries pile up
The Celtics have mostly avoided substantial injuries this season, but on Monday the maladies piled up at once and left them considerably undermanned as they faced the Pelicans.
Kyrie Irving (shoulder), Al Horford (knee), Aron Baynes (ankle), Gordon Hayward (illness), and Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) were all ruled out. Coach Brad Stevens said before the game that Irving and Horford were both day-to-day, but he acknowledged that Horford has been battling patellar tendinitis recently and that the team “may go slowly” as it eases him back into game action.
Horford, who sat out against the Bulls on Saturday, said his knee had been bothering him for about a month, and that it “flared up” after last Thursday’s game against the Knicks.
“I don’t want to have to keep dealing with this as a question mark game after game,” Horford said. “I just have to listen to the training staff and what the doctors are telling me and buy into that plan.”
Horford started to go through warm-ups Monday but said he could tell “right away” that he was not quite right.
“But it is much better than two days ago,” he said. “Hopefully, a couple more days and we can put it behind me.”
Irving tweaked his shoulder in the final minutes of Boston’s win over the Knicks but returned to play in Chicago.
“Kyrie, I think, is going to be fine long term,” Stevens said. “He felt a little bit of stiffness today, so I would expect that he’ll be day-to-day.”
Baynes missed his second straight game with the ankle injury he suffered Thursday, but Stevens said he is progressing well.
Yabusele, who injured his ankle in the fourth quarter against Chicago, avoided a high-ankle sprain, but Stevens said he will be out at least a few weeks.
The Celtics called up P.J. Dozier from the Maine Red Claws, giving the Celtics 10 available players.
Terry Rozier started in place of Irving and added 10 points and seven rebounds, while Daniel Theis started for Horford and chipped in 6 points and five rebounds.
Rookie Robert Williams returned to the Celtics on Monday after missing two games due to the birth of his daughter.
Williams had been sent to Maine to play with the Red Claws on Thursday. After attending the team’s morning shootaround, he received a text message alerting him that the baby was on the way.
“She looks just like me,” Williams said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing.”