Rajon Rondo notched his first triple-double of the NBA regular season as the Boston Celtics lost, 95-94,on the first of two-consecutive games against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Rondo, with his headband intact, showed up on the national stage yet again scoring 16 points, dishing out 14 assists and grabbing 13 rebounds in 42 minutes as the Celtics fell to the Sixers.
Pick-and-roll defense continues to be a problem for this Boston team, allowing Spencer Hawes to pick-and-pop his way to eight points over the first two quarters.
It was an otherwise stout night, with the Celtics flying around the floor and shutting down open lanes.That didn't stop Evan Turner from scoring 12 points, grabbing five boards and tossing around three assists in the first half though.
Turner's big first half would be overlooked though, due to Rondo's outstanding first half, in which he recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The All-Star point guard was in attack mode from the start of the contest, hitting mid-range jumpers or sending piercing passes across court to open shooters.
Coming out of the half, Turner propelled the Sixers with seven points in the frame, to a 57-52 lead after being tied at halftime. But Paul Pierce wouldn't let the Celtics go quietly, turning the third into a back-and-forth affair and igniting Boston with a two-handed baseline jam.
Philadelphia was 9-0 after leading through the first three quarters, as they led 72-70 heading into the fourth.
The final quarter would be just like the other three quarter– competitive.
Boston and Philadelphia would trade baskets most of the way through the quarter, but a key gaff on the offensive end looked to have swung the momentum in favor of the 76ers. With the Celtics down 78-76 with just under 7 minutes to go, Kevin Garnett hit a trey with only one second remaining on the shot clock. The only problem? Rondo had called a timeout, leading to a missed shot, which the Sixers turned into two free throws at the other end.
That was the largest lead of the quarter up until that moment, which Pierce quickly vanished with five-straight points to give Boston their first lead since there was 10:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Over the contest there had been 15 ties and lead changes and somehow, with 59 seconds remaining, the score was tied at 87-87.
Turner, who had scored 22 points, caught his blocked shot and laid the ball in to give the Sixers a two-point lead. On the next possession, Jason Terry missed an easy attempt at the basket, followed by a wide open miss from Garnett on the putback attempt.
There was no question on the next possession though, after getting a stop on the defensive end and with the Celtics trailing by two, Garnett hit a wide open 20-footer with seven seconds remaining in the contest.
After having only eight turnovers in the game, the Sixers gave away the ball with three seconds left after Turner made an ill-advised cross court pass. Rondo missed a buzzer-beating stepback jumper and for the third time this season, the Celtics went to overtime, tied at 89.
Both teams struggled in the extra frame, with shots connecting sparingly. With both teams running on tired legs, Philly and Boston would trade leads throughout the frame. But Turner came up big yet again, making a 13-foot jumper to put the Sixers ahead 95-94 with three seconds remaining in the game. Rondo would pass in to Garnett, who dropped it off to the guard. Rondo would slip while attempting the shot, giving the Sixers the big win.
The Celtics shot 43 percent from the field, as the Sixers connected on 37 percent of their shots.
Pierce was the leading scorer for the Celtics, notching 27, while Turner scored 26 for the Sixers.
Terry and Brandon Bass struggled shooting the ball for Boston, combining to make only one of their attempted 13 shots for one point. Green picked up the scoring load, notching 19 points off the bench.
Rondo and the Celtics (10-9) will have another shot at Evan Turner and the Sixers (11-8) Saturday night from the TD Garden in Boston, MA.
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