Jayson Tatum broke the hearts of Sixers fans, as he hit a dagger 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to lift the Celtics past Philadelphia 110-107 Saturday night.
Joel Embiid nearly sent the game into overtime when he heaved a 70-footer that was nothing but net following Tatum's top of the key 3, except he was late getting the shot off -- leaving the Wells Fargo Center in shock.
"I wish I would have shot it sooner, but as I turned, I saw Derrick White there. So, I couldn't really get it off," Embiid said in his postgame comments. "So, I had to go back to my right side kind of to try to get it off. Unfortunately, you know, the story of my life."
Tatum, who finished with 18 points on a not so great 7-of-17 from the field and 3-of-9 from 3-point range, capped off a 15-point comeback win for the Celtics. The All-Star forward also grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out six assists to help snap Philly's five-game win streak.
"I dream about taking those shots," Tatum said during his postgame presser. "The worst thing that can happen is you miss. "I kind of had a feeling [Embiid's last second heave] wasn't going to count. But it's the NBA, right? Anything can happen."
Jaylen Brown had 26 points, while Derrick White added 18 points off the bench, Al Horford netted 15 points on 5-of-8 from deep and Robert Williams chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds for the C's -- who improved to 44-17 on the season.
Embiid had a game-high 41 points (12-of-21) to along with 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. James Harden scored 21 points and dished out eight assists, Tobias Harris had 19 points for the 76ers, who fell to 39-20 and four games behind Boston as the third seed in the East.
The Sixers jumped out to a 28-19 lead to open the game, before the Celtics used a 20-4 run that bled into the second quarter -- but were down 56-50 at the break.
Boston once again fell behind and trailed by 15 in the third, but outscored the 76ers 12-3 in the final 3:31 of the quarter -- including three straight 3s from Horford -- to take a 80-78 advantage into the final frame.
A driving layup by Brown completed a 17-7 spurt to put the C's ahead 97-87 (their largest margin of the night) with 6:31 left to play. Philly used a 16-5 rally to briefly take a 103-102 lead, but Horford nailed his fifth 3-ball of the game to put the visiting team up for good.
"It's not extra motivation," Horford said to reporters of his return to Philadelphia. "It's just fun. Those are the games you want to be a part of."
Tatum's offensive board and put-back, plus two made free throws each by Harden and Embiid knotted it all up 107 with 5.2 seconds remaining. Joe Mazzulla called the Celtics final timeout to draw up a play that turned into Tatum's game-winner and not enough time on the game clock for Embiid -- who bounced the ball before he could gather his shot as the buzzer sounded.
"It didn't count and we lost the game. So, it's frustrating," Embiid said about his last shot attempt. "Losing this type of game, especially when you're winning by so much, it's frustrating."
The Celtics win the season series and also own the tiebreaker (3-0) over the 76ers, despite there being one more matchup between these two teams coming up in April -- the last week of the regular season.
In the meantime, Boston will end their mini three-game road trip at Madison Square Garden Monday night when they face the New York Knicks (35-27).
Boston was 50% from the field, including 44.4% (16-of-36) from behind the arc, while the Sixers were 44.9% from the floor and 33.3% (9-of-27) from long-distance. The Celtics out-rebounded Philly 44-42 and outscored them in the paint 50-40. The C's had 20 assists on 43 baskets and the 76ers handed out 19 dimes on 35 made shots.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images