BOSTON (AP) — The numbers that Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been putting up this season point to a duo playing even better than last season when Boston reached the NBA Finals.

Brown believes there’s another level they can reach. Their latest performance might have been a peek of that next plateau.

Brown scored a season-high 41 points and had 12 rebounds and the Celtics won their fourth straight game, holding off the New Orleans Pelicans 125-114 on Wednesday night.

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) passes the ball while pressured by New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte’ Graham (4) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Tatum added 31 points and 10 rebounds. It was the fifth career 40-point game for Brown. It was the 10th time in their careers Brown and Tatum have combined for 70 or more points.

“I don’t think this is the best you will see,” Brown said. “I definitely think we’ve got other limits to reach in the future, in our career. This is just part of the process.”

Boston interim coach Joe Mazzulla believes Tatum and Brown are putting the lessons learned from last season’s shortcomings to use.

“To get to that point in your career when you know you need each other and you know you need your teammates — it’s a very powerful thing,” Mazzulla said.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) is pressured by Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) on a drive to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Malcolm Brogdon added 20 points, and Al Horford had 14, making four 3-pointers. The Celtics have won their last five home games.

Horford said the growth Brown and Tatum had made even since last season is bleeding into every aspect of the the team’s dynamic on the floor.

“They continue to grow in front of our eyes,” Horford said. “What we did last year and what they did last year leading us to the Finals, it shows a lot of growth on their end… Now I feel like they’re just playing basketball, trying to lead us.”

Boston will take an NBA-best 30-12 record to Brooklyn Thursday night to face a Nets team that has the East’s second-best record at 27-13.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Naji Marshall (8) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

CJ McCollum had 38 points for New Orleans, his fifth consecutive game with at least 25 points.

“He’s gotten himself going. It’s incredible to see how consistent he is,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “Unfortunately we just came up short tonight.”

He kept the Pelicans in the game throughout, going 6 of 12 from the 3-point line. They played without Zion Williamson for the fifth consecutive game as he continues to deal with a strained right hamstring.

Naji Marshall added 18 points and Trey Murphy III had 15 for New Orleans, The Pelicans have lost three of four.

The Celtics took a six-point lead into halftime and increased it to 104-89 with just under 10 minutes to play.

New Orleans got to 107-97 with 7:32 left. But Boston responded with a 11-3 run to get it back to 118-100.

Brogdon said there’s no question the Celtics are being led by a two-pronged set of stars.

“We got a juggernaut in JT but we got another one in JB,” he said.

Boston Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla calls to his players during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

TIP-INS

Pelicans: The Pelicans are 6-4 in games both Williamson and Ingram have missed. … Dropped to 8-12 on the road. … Went 9 of 15 overall from the 3-point line in the first half. … Jose Alvarado was called for a taunting technical foul with four minutes left in the third quarter after pointing at Luke Kornet after Alvarado drove past him and scored on a layup.

Celtics: This was the 19th time Tatum and Brown have both had 30 or more points in a game. Boston is 18-1 in those games. .. Brown had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green calls to his players during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Detroit on Friday night.

Celtics: At Brooklyn on Thursday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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