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All winning streaks have to end at some point or another. For the Celtics, theirs ended after 11 games, their longest streak of the season. It’s just too bad it had to come from the Philadelphia 76ers at home in a 98-97 loss on Friday night. With the loss the Celtics fell to 20-5 on the season; the 76ers improved to 7-19 on the year.
With Allen Iverson on the bench with knee tendinitis, Philadelphia was able to come back from a 76-72 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. They were able to rally and Elton Brand tipped in the go-ahead basket with 7.7 seconds left in the game. The Celtics got the ball up court quickly but both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were unable to hit the game-winning shot as the C’s lost their fourth Friday night game in seven contests. The loss brings the Celtics to 8-4 at home this season, compared to 12-1 on the road. That is surprising because Boston only lost six games at home all of last season.
As the Celtics continue to struggle at home, Pierce is also wondering what is wrong with his team:
“Tough one to swallow,” Pierce said. “When you have a team on the ropes like that, especially at home … we’ve got to do a better job. I don’t know what the problem is about us playing at home this year.”
Friday night’s loss was the first of three home games for the C’s before making the trip down to Orlando to take on the Magic on Christmas day.
Boston was led by Kevin Garnett with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks, but Garnett struggled shooting the ball as he went 5-for-14 from the field. Pierce continued his cold streak as he was only able to go 4-for-12 for the game for a total of 9 points. Allen chipped in 17 points of his own, but also missed 10 of his 17 shot attempts on the night.
Also coming up big was Kendrick Perkins with 12 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. He had 11 rebounds in the first half alone. Rajon Rondo continued getting his double-doubles as he had 13 points and 10 assists while adding 3 steals.
Boston’s bench had to go much of the game without key reserve Rasheed Wallace as he received two technical fouls in the second quarter and had to be restrained upon being ejected. Tony Allen filled in nicely as he shot for 10 points while adding 3 steals.
Philadelphia was led by Brand with a season-high 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. It was his key tip-in late in the game that won the game for the 76ers.
While the Celtics were able to shoot 45% for the game, they limited the 76ers to only 40%. Boston narrowly beat out Philadelphia in every category but still managed to lose. The Celtics had 46 rebounds, the 76ers had 45. The Celtics had 21 assists, Philly had 17. The 76ers had seven steals, the Celtics had 10. Boston had seven blocks, Philly had six. It was just one of those games where everything was going right for the Celtics but then everything went wrong and the 76ers were able to pull away late and come away with the game-winning shot.
It was a tough loss against a division rival for the Celtics, even when the 76ers had their two best ball-handlers out in Iverson and Lou Williams. Williams is still out with a broken jaw.
The Celtics will next play the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Sunday. The T’Wolves have struggled a lot this season as they are 5-22 on the year. The Celtics should not sleep on the young team though, because they typically do play the Celtics hard ever since the Garnett trade.