Sixers outlast Celtics, 113-108

Sixers outlast Celtics, 113-108
April 14, 2014, 9:45 pm
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(AP Images)

PHILADELPHIA — It's a four quarter game, but it only takes one stretch - or sometimes one bad play -  to ruin everything.

This is a lesson the Boston Celtics have been learning all season, with the latest teacher being Philadelphia, a team well-versed on finding creative ways to lose.

A slew of miscues by the Sixers gave Boston a chance to force overtime in the closing seconds.

But Rajon Rondo was never able to create enough space for himself or set up his teammates early enough in the shot clock.

That said, the Celtics still managed to get off a 3-pointer by Chris Johnson that went in, but it was waived off immediately because he had stepped out of bounds with just 0.9 seconds to play.

Game over.

Philadelphia escaped with a 113-108 win.

The ending brought to a close a frantic final minute that saw the Celtics have a chance to force overtime only for their late-game efforts on Monday - symbolic of the kind of season this has been for them - to come up short in defeat.

The down-to-the-wire finish didn't seem likely.

In fact, the Celtics seemed like they were on their way to another blowout win on the road when they opened the game with a 9-3 spurt.

But soon came a run of Boston turnovers, followed by run-outs by the always-looking-to-run Sixers.

In a matter of minutes, Boston's lead which peaked at 10 points in the first quarter was gone and replaced by a 33-all game going into the second.

The lead wasn't the only thing the Celtics lost in the first quarter.

Rajon Rondo had to leave the game after an inadvertent elbow from Thaddeus Young caught him in the nose which leveled him to the ground where he stayed for several anxious seconds as teammates and the medical staff gathered around.

Rondo would eventually return to the game, and seemed to play about as well as he was playing prior to the blow.

Jeff Green had another strong first quarter, where he scored 12 of his 14 first-half points. Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley each had 10 points at the half, but they did so by shooting a combined 7-for-20 from the field.

Poor shooting combined with lots of turnovers (Boston had 10 in the first half on Monday, compared to 11 for the entire game at Cleveland on Saturday) put the Celtics in a hole that was as deep as 19 points in the first half before trimming it ever-so-slightly, to 67-50 at the half.

But the Sixers, the keepers of an NBA record-tying 26 straight losses, could not possibly be on the verge of a blowout?

Of course not!

And that has more to do with them being the Sixers than anything the Celtics were doing.

Boston started to chip away at Philadelphia's in part because of their defense but also being helped by poor shot selection at times by the Sixers.

A driving lay-up by Jeff Green with just under three minutes to play cut Philadelphia's lead to single digits, 83-74.

Boston to play on the frindge of a double-digit deficit before finishing the third quarter with a 21-6 run that cut Philadelphia's lead to 86-84 going into the fourth.