Still Without Thomas, Celtics Drop 105-99 Decision To Sixers

By The Sports Xchange

PHILADELPHIA — Dario Saric scored 23 points and Robert Covington nailed a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:41 left as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Sunday afternoon.

Saric and Covington, who finished with 16 points, combined for nine in the final 5:27 as Philadelphia rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to win for the third time in four games.

Boston’s Al Horford scored a season-high 27 points and contributed eight rebounds and six assists. Jae Crowder added 15 points for the Eastern Conference’s second-best team.

The Celtics, who saw a three-game winning streak end, played their second straight game without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who rested a sore right knee. He is expected to return Monday night against Washington.

With the score knotted at 91, Saric found Covington on the right wing and he drilled his go-ahead triple. Saric then answered Amir Johnson’s basket with a layup.

After Marcus Smart scored for Boston, Sixers guard T.J McConnell sank a pull-up jumper to trigger a 9-2 flurry that included a 3-pointer by Nik Stauskas. That put Philadelphia in front 105-97 with 27.6 seconds left.

The Celtics started slowly, falling behind 33-25 early in the second quarter, but were awakened by reserve guard Terry Rozier. He was seemingly everywhere as Boston outscored Philadelphia 26-11 during an eight-minute stretch, scoring 10 of his 12 first-half points and grabbing four rebounds.

Bradley added six points in that spurt, which left the Celtics with a 51-44 lead. Their cushion was 51-46 at halftime, at which point Horford also had 12 points and Bradley 10.

Saric paced the Sixers with 14 points in the first half.

Horford packed 13 points into the first 5:22 of the third quarter, helping Boston seize a 69-56 lead, and the Celtics were still up 79-70 with 1:06 left in the quarter.

Philadelphia, however, scored the last six points of the quarter, on a tip-in by backup center Shawn Long, Long’s fast-break dunk and, after a Boston turnover, a layup by Sergio Rodriguez with less than a second left.

The Sixers surged in front on three occasions early in the fourth quarter, only to see Jae Crowder answer each time. His two free throws with 4:55 remaining forged a 91-all deadlock.

NOTES: Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, asked before the game about NBA teams’ practice of resting key players, related it to his days as a San Antonio assistant, when coach Gregg Popovich regularly sat out key contributors during the regular season. Brown said it’s a “combination of sports science, agents, clubs feeling the responsibility to keep your best players, especially, healthy” in the face of the months-long grind. “It’s like water dripping on your forehead, this league,” he said. “It just doesn’t stop.” … Sixers G-F Justin Anderson sat out because of illness and C Jahlil Okafor left the game in the second quarter with a sore right knee. He did not return.

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