Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/21

Game 1: Friday, November 21st
Game 2: Sunday, December 21st
Game 3: Saturday, February 7th
Game 4: Sunday, March 28th

76ers 84

(13-14, 6-7 away)

Celtics 87

(14-14, 8-8 home)

Coverage: CSN

6:00 PM ET, December 21, 2003

TD Garden, Boston, MA

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 19 26 20 1984
BOS 23 10 24 3087

Top Performers

Phi: A. McKie 24 Pts, 2 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Bos: P. Pierce 31 Pts, 10 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Pierce, Welsh combine for 53 points

BOSTON (AP) -- The Celtics have passed the Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division standings, a development Boston coach Jim O'Brien termed "shocking."

Paul Pierce scored 31 points, Jiri Welsch added 22 and the Celtics overcame a 12-point deficit in the final quarter to defeat Philadelphia 87-84 Sunday night.

"Not everybody's on the same page, nor should they be," O'Brien said of the Celtics, who made a six-player trade with Cleveland on Monday. "We clearly have a tremendous amount of work to do. Our rotations are in a shambles right now."

The Celtics, who trailed 65-57 at the start of the fourth quarter, used a 14-0 run to take a 75-70 lead with 4:09 left. Welsch scored six of those points on a pair of 3-pointers, and Pierce made a free throw following a technical foul on 76ers coach Randy Ayers to give the Celtics their first lead since the second quarter.

Philadelphia answered with a 3-pointer from Aaron McKie with 2:40 left to go ahead 77-75, but Mike James' 3-pointer with 50.7 seconds remaining gave Boston the lead for good, 80-77.

"We let the pace of the game get away from us to start the fourth quarter," Ayers said. "Before that I thought we had control of the game."

Pierce went 16-for-18 at the foul line and added 10 rebounds and seven assists. Vin Baker had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"These guys are playing with tremendous confidence and I'm thankful for that," Pierce said. "I'm trying to find open guys and they're knocking down open shots and making me look good."

Allen Iverson missed his fourth consecutive game because of a right knee contusion. McKie paced the 76ers with 24 points, and rookie Kyle Korver went 5-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 18.

"I thought we had that game won," Korver said. "But they made that run and hit some 3's."

The 76ers forced eight turnovers in the second quarter to take a 45-33 lead at halftime. McKie's layup with 5:03 left in the quarter capped a 20-6 run.

Korver made three 3-pointers in the last 3:09 of the third quarter.

Game notes

O'Brien picked up his second technical of the season in the first quarter. ... The Celtics go on the road for their next four games. ... The 76ers have a 8-3 record in Boston since the 1998-99 season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 84 87
FGM-FGA 30-78 (.385) 27-63 (.429)
3PM-3PA 9-18 (.500) 8-21 (.381)
FTM-FTA 15-18 (.833) 25-29 (.862)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-35 7-38
Assists 25 15
Turnovers 18 22
Steals 11 9
Blocks 3 8
Fast Break Points 1 2
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (2/0) 16 (1/0)

Top Performers

Aaron McKie McKie
Points: 24
Reb: 2
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 31
Reb: 10
Ast: 7
Stl: 2
Blk: 1