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On a night when Paul Pierce goes 1-for-9 from the field, everyone else needs to pick up the slack and that is exactly what the rest of the Boston Celtics did Friday night. By keeping a steady lead throughout the game, the Celtics were able to get the 96-86 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers and hand them their fifth consecutive loss.
After shooting lights out just two days earlier against the Charlotte Bobcats, Pierce struggled to find his shot. Luckily enough for him the rest of the team is pretty good. Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 11 assists, Kevin Garnett had a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds, and Ray Allen chipped in 16 points of his own.
“I kept looking at my hand wondering what was wrong,” Pierce said. “I felt real good out there. But the shots weren’t falling.”
The win brought the Celtics to 39-21 on the season, while the loss really hurt the 76ers on their push for a playoff spot,and brought them down to 22-39.
“We’re a veteran team, we know how to play,” Garnett said, “It’s just [about] when we want to put our heads together, go out and execute and do the things we have worked on. I think the second half of the season is when you really get into what you do. It’s just focus. When we want to do it, we do it. Some nights we get lazy.”
What really got the C’s going was Rondo in the third quarter. The point guard went 0-for-4 in the first half, but in the third quarter alone he poured in 14 points. He had a couple successful drives to the basket off the pick-and-roll that really got him into the game, and from then on it was all Celtics.
Rondo said he was simply trying to get to the free-throw line, good thing he got the layups to go in as well and that is exactly what the team needed.
“We just didn’t have anything going at that one stretch and then we ran two plays and Rondo was fantastic in them,” Head Coach Doc Rivers said.
For the 76ers, they were led by Lou Williams with a team-high 22 points of 9-of-15 shooting. Elton Brand added 17 points and four rebounds while Andre Iguodala had 14 points with nine assists. Other than that, there wasn’t much coming from Sixers.
Their disruptive star in Allen Iverson was announced earlier in the week to be done for the season. So, things aren’t going too well this season for the team from the city of Brotherly Love.
“If you want to model yourself after a good team, you look at a team with a lot of vets who play the game the right way,” Iguodala said.
The Celtics and 76ers have been known to have a strong rivalry and things picked up in the first half when both Kendrick Perkins and Marreese Speights received technical fouls for rough play. After that things cooled down for the most part.
The Celtics will now go back home and wait for the Washington Wizards to arrive on Sunday afternoon. Doc Rivers hopes that newly-signed Michael Finley will able to suit up for the Celts by game time. The veteran was officially signed on Friday.