Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/30

Game 1: Wednesday, November 30th
Game 2: Friday, January 13th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 8th
Game 4: Friday, April 7th

Celtics 109

(32-44, 12-27 away)

76ers 99

(34-41, 21-18 home)

Coverage: CSN

7:00 PM ET, April 7, 2006

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

1 2 3 4 T
BOS 30 25 26 28109
PHI 34 25 17 2399

Top Performers

Bos: P. Pierce 33 Pts, 12 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Phi: A. Iverson 37 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Philadelphia free-fall: Celts beat sagging Sixers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson squirmed in his seat, tugged his jersey and rubbed his eyes. The Philadelphia star appeared about as uncomfortable answering questions as the 76ers have looked in the playoff race.

Coach Maurice Cheeks tapped the table, coming up empty in a search for words. He remained seated, head in hands as reporters left and the room went dark.

Soon, it could be lights out on the season for the 76ers.

Paul Pierce had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Gerald Green scored a career-high 17 points and the Boston Celtics extended Philadelphia's late-season misery with a 109-99 win over the sagging 76ers on Friday night.

"I'm not pointing fingers at anybody, but as a group we're not playing hard enough to win basketball games," Iverson said. "We don't seem hungry. We don't seem like we want to make it to the playoffs."

The Sixers lost their third straight game this week and wasted a fantastic opportunity to gain ground in the Eastern Conference. They lost by 33 at Cleveland, by seven points against Chicago in a game that knocked them out of the final playoff spot and squandered this one against the Celtics.

While Philadelphia (34-41) has shown little reason to believe it can turn its season around down the stretch, it still has a chance to move back into a tie for the eighth spot with a win at Chicago on Saturday night.

The Sixers have lost 13 of their last 17 games overall and a distressing seven of nine at home.

Iverson led the Sixers with 37 points, Chris Webber had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Korver scored 18 points.

The normally easy-going Cheeks looked broken trying to answer questions, his voice only slightly rising when asked if he needed to chide his team more instead of defending it.

"What does me criticizing the guys have to do with the game tonight?" a shaken Cheeks said. "I've got to do it my way."

Tony Allen had 16 points for the Celtics, Raef LaFrentz punished the Sixers from 3-point range during a critical stretch and scored 12 and Ryan Gomes had 11. Delonte West added 12 assists.

Green and Allen were a couple of nice surprises for a Boston team out of the playoff picture. Green averages only 2.5 points this season and Allen just six, but against the Sixers, they looked like seasoned All-Stars.

It was Green who tied the game for Boston late in the fourth with a 3-pointer, making it 91-all. Then Pierce put the Celtics ahead for good with a baseline jumper and a free throw. Pierce added a 15-footer from the elbow for 96-91 lead, and they got another three-point play from Ryan Gomes late to seal the win.

"It was a good win for us because they're fighting for a playoff spot," LaFrentz said. "For us, we're just trying to finish strong and play hard every night."

Cheeks complained this week that his team lacked effort and energy, which cost them in their losses. The Sixers had both at times in this one -- they just didn't have any defense.

"I think that with this team, we honestly worry about other things besides team concepts," Iverson said.

Have the Sixers quit? Do they still care? Iverson wasn't sure, only hoping they still could make a run at a postseason berth.

"I hope we're just not playing well," he said. "I hope it's not anybody that's given up on us. I haven't."

Boston was shooting 65 percent late in the first half and used that to take a 59-55 lead at the break.

Then while the Sixers went without a field goal for 6:05 over the third and fourth quarters, the Celtics got three 3-pointers from LaFrentz, two from Pierce and one from Green to go up 84-76.

John Salmons rallied the Sixers when he crashed to the court as he tossed the ball straight up, it fell straight through the basket and he sank the free throw. Then he converted a bounce pass into a dunk to give the Sixers an 87-86 lead.

Iverson sank a couple of jumpers that made it 91-88 and gave Philadelphia its last lead of the game.

"We were playing a team that was obviously playing desperate and you could see that play in them," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We're loose and we played aggressive."

Game notes

Sixers G Kevin Ollie needed four stitches above his eye after a first-quarter collision. ... Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli visited West before the game. Martelli beamed when talking about the success West and Orlando's Jameer Nelson have had this season. "They're far superior to when they were in college," he said. West said he left about a dozen tickets for friends and family. "It feels good every time I come to Philly," he said. ... Eagles coach Andy Reid was at the game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 109 99
FGM-FGA 39-74 (.527) 38-83 (.458)
3PM-3PA 9-21 (.429) 6-16 (.375)
FTM-FTA 22-32 (.688) 17-26 (.654)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-42 9-35
Assists 21 23
Turnovers 17 9
Steals 4 8
Blocks 7 2
Fast Break Points 15 14
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 26 (1/0)
Largest Lead 10 8

Top Performers

Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 33
Reb: 12
Ast: 6
Stl: 3
Blk: 1
Allen Iverson Iverson
Points: 37
Reb: 4
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 0