C's make it three in a row after win over 76ers

C's make it three in a row after win over 76ers
March 5, 2013, 9:45 pm
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PHILADELPHIA — Having played just one game in past seven days, there was bound to be some rust for the Boston Celtics to shed against the Sixers.

Boston certainly had its sputtering moments against Philadelphia in every quarter.

But when it mattered most, they found a way to muster up enough big plays for a 109-101 win.

"Overall, I just loved our effort," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It was a good team win."

And with the victory, the C's (32-27) are now five games over .500 for the first time this season with three straight wins and victories in four of their last five games.

The Celtics got a huge game from Avery Bradley who delivered offensively instead of with his customary lock-down defense.

Bradley had a season-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. Paul Pierce also had a nice night for the Green team with a near triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Keeping the Sixers in the game was their lone all-star Jrue Holiday who had his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 assists.

While Philadelphia kept the game relatively close most of the night, it was the Celtics getting whatever was necessary in the game's final minutes to secure the victory.

Boston's zone defense was especially effective, with the C's leaning on it more than usual.

"We had no game plan to go zone that much," said Rivers. "But what we do is, if the zone works and we score, then we stay in zone; if we miss we go back to man. But we made a lot of shots, so it allowed us to stay in zone a lot."

But the Sixers continued to fight and claw their way to stay within striking distance, and were looking to extend the game as long as they could with some intentional fouls in the game's final seconds.

However, the Celtics put the game away by knocking down four of their five free throw attempts in the final 38.3 seconds of play.

Getting stops defensively seemed to be a challenge for both teams early on despite each ranking among the league's top teams defensively.

Both teams seemed to get whatever shot they wanted in the game's first few minutes as they combined to make 10 of their first 13 shots.

After a floating jump shot by Holiday put the Sixers ahead 17-11, Doc Rivers had seen enough.

His message in the huddle was clear: defend, rebound and the run ... a lot.

The Celtics did all three, in that order, which was instrumental in propelling them to a 15-2 run to take a comfortable 26-19 lead before they gave up a pair of late-quarter baskets that cut into their lead and made it 26-23 after one quarter.

Philadelphia has seemingly been at their worst in the second quarter of games this season, averaging an NBA-worst  22.6 points per game scored in the second.

Tuesday wasn't all that different with the Sixers only scoring 23 points.

Although the Sixers stayed within striking distance and even had a couple opportunities to take the lead in the second quarter, there was never a sense that the game's control was out of the Celtics' grip.

"I thought we got stops or were the first team to get some stops," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "And that was the difference."

Garnett set the tone early on with a trio of baskets near the basket and from the perimeter.

But it was Bradley's balanced game that kept the C's playing with a lead for most of the night.

He led all scorers at the half with 14 points while shooting 6-for-7 from the field.

Bradley's scoring offset Holiday's 18 points, although Holiday needed 17 shots (he missed 11) to do so.

It was important because Bradley's defense, while forcing Holiday to take a lot of shots to score, still wasn't enough to keep him from making a significant impact in the first half as Holiday went into the break with 8 points (on 4-for-10 shooting) along with nine assists.

Even with Holiday scoring and getting his teammates involved, the Celtics still managed to take a 53-46 lead into the half.

Boston led by as many as 14 in the third, only to allow Philadelphia to close out the quarter with an 8-0 run that cut their lead to 79-74 going into the fourth.