- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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THE NITTY GRITTY
Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and paced a Celtics offense that shot 53.3 percent from the floor. Ironically, Garnett did not grab a single rebound, only the fourth time in his career that's happened and first since Jan. 21, 1997. Rajon Rondo flirted with back-to-back triple-doubles, settling for 7 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Paul Pierce added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Jeff Green (16 points) had a solid night off the bench. Thaddeus Young scored a game-high 22 points, but the Celtics limited the damage done by Friday's hero Evan Turner (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists).
With the Big Three off the floor, the Celtics' role players put together a nice little burst late in the first quarter. A one-possession game was broken open as Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer, Green produced a driving layup, and Jared Sullinger canned a 21-foot jumper as Boston opened a double-digit advantage (22-12 with 1:52 to go in first frame). Terry hit another 3-pointer late in the second quarter to spark a little 9-0 burst that Garnett capped with consecutive buckets for a 21-point cushion (45-24 with 1:59 to play in the half). The Celtics were still on top by 20 at the intermission.
SIXERS MAKE A CHARGE
The Celtics and Sixers were content to trade baskets early in the third quarter (doing so on six consecutive possessions, in fact, at one point). A Courtney Lee 3-pointer had Boston out front by 21, but Philadelphia responded with a 13-0 run against Boston's reserve unit, trimming the lead to single digits. Garnett subbed back in and hit a 17-foot fadeaway jumper to stop the bleeding and Boston's lead was back at 13 by the end of the frame despite a 29-point quarter for the 76ers.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME
Green had his hand on a pair of loud dunks early in the second quarter. After drawing a double-team, Green fed a wide-open Garnett streaking down the lane for a trademark tomahawk slam. Less than two minutes later, Green found himself with space in the paint and delivered his own one-handed rim-rocker off a feed from Rondo. For good measure, Green threw down an alley-oop lob from Rondo in the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics bounced back nicely from Friday's loss, opening a big lead early and cruising on a sleepy Saturday night at TD Garden. Boston had one third-quarter lapse, but recovered nicely and the 76ers never got closer than eight in the second half. The Big Three carried Boston, but the Celtics got nice contributions from across the board (including quiet efforts from the likes of Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger off the bench). The Celtics will enjoy three consecutive days off before hosting the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday evening at TD Garden (the final home game before a three-game road trip that stops in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago).
11dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford