Rapid Reaction: 76ers 95, Celtics 94 (OT)
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rajon Rondo produced the 24th triple-double of his career (and 19th on national TV) by posting 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds, but his night was upstaged by Evan Turner, whose pull-up jumper in the closing seconds of overtime capped a 26-point, 10-rebound effort and lifted the 76ers to victory in a seesaw battle. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting with five assists, four rebounds and a block over 45 minutes. Jeff Green added 19 points in a terrific effort off the bench for Boston. Jrue Holiday (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Thaddeus Young (17 points, 12 rebounds) helped carry the 76ers.
TURNING POINT I: BACK-AND-FORTH FINISH
The Celtics were down 80-76 when Kevin Garnett went to the bench with 6:36 to play in the fourth quarter. Boston actually held Philadelphia scoreless for the two minutes that he was out and tied the game, setting into motion a back-and-forth finish. Green was immense at both ends of the floor, picking up the slack for a struggling Brandon Bass. Turner's little scoop finger-roll over Garnett with 49 seconds to play put the Sixers up 89-87, but Garnett responded with a 20-foot jumper with 7.7 ticks to go to tie the game for the 15th time. The 76ers threw away a potential final shot and Rondo's 19-footer hit back rim at the buzzer, forcing the extra session.
TURNING POINT II: OVERTIME
A Green 3-pointer put Boston out front 94-93 with 1:54 left, and that's where things stood when Courtney Lee pulled up for a corner 3-pointer with 25 seconds to play and a chance to deliver the knockout blow. The shot airballed and, making matters worse for Lee, Turner knocked down a pull-up 13-footer over him with 3.9 seconds to go at the other end. Rondo airballed a 16-footer at the buzzer with a chance to win it.
FAST START FOR RONDO
Rondo posted a ridiculous 10-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist first quarter, all but assuring the triple-double night. What's more, he made four of his first five shots from the floor -- a driving layup and three mid-range jumpers -- while accounting for eight of Boston's first 12 points. He didn't get his first assist until 6½ minutes in and quickly shifted into distribution mode with five helpers over little more than three minutes. By halftime, Rondo was up to 14 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists over a mere 18 minutes.
TWENTY FOR THE CAPTAIN
The Celtics didn't have a 20-plus point scorer in any of their previous four games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that was the longest streak since November 2003 and Boston had never gone five games without a 20-plus scorer in the shot-clock era. It still hasn't after Pierce got to that number on Friday night.
WHAT IT MEANS
Ninety-six minutes over two nights just wasn't enough for these two teams, who spilled into the extra session in a game that featured 19 lead changes and 17 ties. Turnovers killed the Celtics as Philadelphia parlayed 19 Boston giveaways into 21 points. The sure-handed 76ers committed nine turnovers leading to a mere nine points. This rivalry gets less than 24 hours to breathe before the Celtics and 76ers clash again Saturday night, when they wrap up this home-and-home at TD Garden.
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