Thursday, February 6, 2014

Celtics 114 - 76ers 108: C's sieze payback in Philly, win two in a row

Philadelphia - It's been the talk of Celtics nation after Sunday's win over the Magic, players wanted to let it be known that there will be absolutely no 'tanking' between now and the end of the season.

Wednesday night was another step in that direction when Jeff Green's 36 points proved to help the cause, as Boston avenged their loss to Philly from last week, winning 114-108 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Green scored 17 of his 36 in the third quarter, he shot 11-of-18, including hitting 5-of-7 from behind the arc.

Jared Sullinger finished with his third consecutive double-double (15th overall) on 19 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Bass chipped in 18 and Rajon Rondo, who played over 30 minutes for the first time this season (32), flirted with a triple-double once again. Rondo dished out 11 assists, grabbed nine boards and scored eight points for the Celtics, who have won two in a row after losing 19 of the last 22 games.

"It was only a matter of time before we got on the same page," Green said about Rondo. "He puts me in my spots, gets it to me in the open floor. He sees the floor very well. He's helping me get into a good rhythm. I have to continue to make sure I get open for him."

Celtics, 2-6 since Rajon's return, has had two consecutive games with at least 10 assists. He shot 50 percent from the field connecting on four of eight shot attempts.

"I'm getting back to my old self," said Rondo. " I'm not there yet but I'll take the progress."

Seven players scored in double-figures for Philadelphia, who have not won since their last meeting against Boston last Wednesday, they are currently on a four game losing streak.

Thaddeus Young led the way with 20 points. Tony Wroten had 18, Spencer Hawes contributed with 13 points and hauled down 13 rebounds. Lavoy Allen also finished with a double-double - scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who have lost six straight at home.

Green scored 13 straight points in a two minute span in the third, that ended at the 3:44 mark after his 3-pointer put the Celtics up, 83-71. Wroten capped off the exciting quarter with a 58-foot buzzer beater to cut into the lead, 88-82, entering the fourth. Philly was bound to make another comeback after Wroten made two free throws with 8:35 left, that had the 76ers within three.

The last chance for the home team came with 1:13 remaining when last week's hero, Evan Turner, missed a baseline jumper that would have cut the lead down to two points and a one possession game. But a Rondo assist to a cutting Sullinger, converted the shot into a three point play on a foul called with 59.4 seconds to put Boston up 112-105, and eventually held on for the win.

Sixers coach noticed the Celtics are a much different team when their floor general is in the game running the show.

"He's their compass," Philly's coach, Brett Brown said. "He's a great point guard and a leader."

Brad Stevens credits Rondo for getting his teammates Green, Sullinger and even Bass going throughout the night.

"He made a ton of good decisions and some huge plays late," said the Celtics coach. "[Green] made a lot of shots and Rondo found him a couple of times early. He pushed the tempo better than I've seen him in the first eight games. His greatest strength is he makes everyone else better and that's really shown true the last two games."

Jeff Green in Rondo's absence was averaging close to 17 points a game. Since his return, Green has dipped a bit to just over 13 points, shooting poorly in the last few outings. But last night might be the beginning of these two clicking at the right time as they push to convince Danny Anige, they want to be apart of the foreseeable future.

"Everybody needs easy buckets, especially a guy who's that talented and athletic," said Rondo of Green. "All he needs to do is see it go through a couple of times, get to the free-throw line. He gets hot quick."

Boston will head home to take on the Sacramento Kings at the TD Garden on Friday night. They will look to make it three wins in a row for the first time since early December. Tip-off is at 7:30 PM.

Game Notes:

Avery Bradley sat out the last few minutes of the fourth, due to his previously injured right ankle bothering him. He played 26 minutes and scored 14 points (all by halftime) on 6-of-15 shooting from the field, he is expected to play on Friday. Jerryd Bayless, off the bench, scored 11 points and handed out five assists, it was his best game since being traded to Boston. The Celtics shot 42 percent from 3-point land, making 8-of-19 attempts, and only turned the ball over 13 times.

Joel Pavón

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