The Celtics couldn't keep up with the Philadelphia 76ers in the final 12 minutes of regulation and lost 105-99.
Al Horford was one of the few bright spots for the C's, as he lead his squad in scoring with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also finished with 11-for-16 shooting. The rest of the team shot 23-for-69 from the floor. It was clear the Celtics were missing Isaiah Thomas who didn't travel with the team for the two game roadtrip.
The Philadelphia 76ers had big afternoons from Dario Saric who tallied 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, and Robert Covington who served as a microwave to keep the Sixers in the game. He finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
The game was lost in the fourth quarter as Philly outscored Boston 29-20 in the final frame. The Celtics only put in six threes over the course of the tilt, and the loss snaps a three game winning streak before the Celtics head home.
The Celtics couldn't pull away from the Sixers all afternoon. Opening the game, Philly big man Jahlil Okafor put it a bucket to start off the scoring, but he faced a tough matchup in Horford. Horford was the first Celtic to find his way into the scoring column with a driving hook just over a minute into the game.
Boston's offense looked sluggish. Fortunately, the 76ers were also struggling from the floor. It was knotted at 11 at the half point of the first quarter. That's when Robert Covington caught fire. He rattled off six points and pushed the Sixers to an eight-point lead with a minute and a half to go. But basketball is a game of runs and the C's pieced together a quick six-point run to close out the quarter and finish the first 12 trailing by two, 25-23 Philadelphia.
Covington came out of the break riding his streak and put in his 11th point with a layup at the rim. The Sixers were able to stave off the Celtics through the first half of the frame, but Gerald Green with 7:20 left in the half knocked down Boston's first three of the game to cut the deficit to one. The C's were able to retake the lead on the follow possession with a driving hook by Horford, 34-33 Boston.
Horford and crew were able to hold onto that lead for the rest of the half, pushing it to seven on a fader drilled by Avery Bradley with about three minutes left. The Sixers would claw their way back to within five, and the Celtics went into the locker room up 51-46.
The third quarter was wildly inconsistent for Brad Stevens' squad. Boston built its biggest lead of the game on the shoulders of Horford who started stretching the floor in addition to his dominance inside. That lead reached 13 on a layup by big Al with seven and a half to go in the third.
But that was the largest lead the Celtics would have in the ball game, and over the next seven minutes the Sixers clawed back, especially in the final minute where Philly created a four point swing at the buzzer to make it 79-76 Boston.
The 76ers had momentum starting the final 12 minutes and they rode it out. Their last lead was in the second quarter, but within a minute and a half it was a tie game, and a three by Timothe Luwawu-Cabarott gave the Sixers their first lead since the first half. Boston never would retake the lead but hung around with Philly through most of the last frame.
Then the Celtics defense fell apart in the closing minutes. It was 96-95, Philly with just over two to go, but a 7-2 run put it away for the Sixers. Now trailing by seven, the Celtics couldn't surge a final ditch effort to win it and they drop the final game of the short roadtrip, 105-99.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: John Geliebter/USA TODAY Sports. Topher Lane 3/19/2017 03:37:00 PM Tweet Edit