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Kevin Garnett scored a game high 20 points, and Rajon Rondo dished out 15 assists, as the Boston Celtics improved their Atlantic division lead to three games in a 103-79 victory over the reeling Philadelphia 76ers.
The Celtics won the game with their defense in the second quarter. The Celtics held the Sixers to just 14 points in the second, forcing them to commit 6 turnovers. Greg Stiemsma and Sasha Pavlovic both blocked shots in the quarter’s opening moments, setting the tone until halftime.
The Celtics led 50-36 at the half. Led by Garnett, the Celtics rattled off a quick 10-2 run to start the third quarter that would ultimately be the knockout punch that would bury the Sixers.
Sunday’s contest had huge playoff implications in the Eastern Conference. Aside from the modest divisional lead the Celtics have built, the Sixers now find themselves in a battle to make the playoffs. They’ve now lost 12 of 14 games and are tied with New York Knicks for the seventh seed in the playoffs. The ninth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks trail the Knicks and Sixers by just one game, having won seven of eight games
The last time the Celtics and Sixers met, Mickael Pietrus left the game on a stretcher with a concussion in the second quarter. Pietrus passed the first in a series of concussion tests before Sunday’s game.
The Celtics travel to South Beach on Tuesday to pay a visit to the Miami Heat in what will be the first in a stretch of five games in six nights.