Rajon Rondo had 20 assists and 14 points as the Boston Celtics fell back under .500 with a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-100, Friday at the TD Garden in Boston, MA.
Just as the 76ers' lead slowly grew throughout the first half, it gradually dwindled right out of the gate in the second half, before Philadelphia iced the game, taking an eight-point lead in the remaining minute of the fourth quarter.
Boston trailed by 10 or more for much of the third quarter, but the veteran group got point guard Rajon Rondo going and chipped away at Philadelphia's lead. Rondo either assisted or scored on nine out of 10 Celtics' scores in that quarter. He would finish with eight points and six assists in the third quarter alone.
At the end of the third, with Kevin Garnett on the bench since the 5:46 mark, the Celtics knocked the lead down to 83-74, trailing nine.
Boston and Philadelphia would trade runs throughout the fourth, much like they did in last year's playoff series, but the Celtics would never regain the lead. Boston would make it a four-point game at the 10:41 mark in the fourth quarter on a on Jason Terry three-point shot. The Sixers would go on a 6-0 run to push the lead back to nine, but the Celtics weren't done yet. With just under two minutes remaining in the fourth, the Celtics would cut it to a six-point game only for Philadelphia to run clock and put the game away for good.
Throughout the evening, Philadelphia's guards were able to penetrate the paint with ease, either dropping floaters for an easy two or kicking the ball to bigs roaming near the bucket. The Sixers used a 56-38 advantage on points scored within the paint to outmatch the Boston big men all night.
Philadelphia had five players in double-digits on the night, showing their even scoring ability from the starting group to the bench unit. Evan Turner led the Sixers with 25 points and 11 boards on the night. Jrue Holiday chipped in 21 points and 14 assist for the 76ers as well.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Boston missed nine free throws throughout the game, and would lose by six.
The Celtics shot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point land on the night, while the 76ers connected on 48 percent from the field and 53 percent from three.
Boston will travel to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to match up with the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at 8:30 pm ET.
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