Sixers Pound Celts


PHILADELPHIA -- The Celtics are desperately in search of answers, baskets, mental toughness, and any sign of pride. For the second night in a row, Boston suffered an embarrassing loss to a less-talented opponent. The 76ers dominated on the way to a 110-97 win last night, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process. Meanwhile, the Celtics skid is at two games with the schedule more demanding as the Cavaliers visit the FleetCenter tomorrow.

The Celtics must regroup over the Thanksgiving holiday because they are off to the West Coast in just over a week. It may be early, they may be relatively young, and they may not expect to jell until after the New Year, but the Celtics have reached a critical juncture. They need to figure out a way to win games, to keep from surrendering big runs, to stay tough when facing adversity. If they don't, it will be a long season.

Playing their former coach, Jim O'Brien, in the second game of a back-to-back set after a demoralizing loss to the depleted Pacers, the Celtics had a lot to prove. And they had any number of sources for motivation. But as Celtics coach Doc Rivers continually reiterates, the team needs mental toughness more than anything else. The Celtics showed some in whittling a 12-point, first-quarter deficit. But despite shooting 72 percent (13 for 18) in the second, the Celtics trailed, 56-52 at the break.

Ricky Davis provided the Celtics with the offensive spark they needed in the second, scoring 17 points (7 for 10) off the bench. Davis accounted for half of Boston's points in the period with a combination of mid-range jumpers, a pair of 3-pointers, a layup, and a free throw. A Davis 3-pointer on the break with 1.5 seconds remaining made it a two-possession game at halftime.

Philadelphia's lackluster defensive performance in the second quarter undoubtedly made O'Brien nauseous. O'Brien preaches defense first, but the Sixers allowed the Celtics to shoot 50 percent in the first half, and Davis and Pierce reached double figures in scoring.

The Sixers established a 20-8 advantage in the first quarter behind a 9-0 run with contributions from Marc Jackson (17-footer, free throws), Allen Iverson (18-footer), and Kyle Korver (3-pointer). Jackson looked impressive with 10 points in eight minutes.

But the Celtics used an 8-1 run to cut the deficit to 23-18. Mark Blount started the spurt with a layup, then Pierce hit an 18-footer. Pierce found Al Jefferson for a layup before Marcus Banks capped the run with a free throw. Still, the Celtics were struggling to find their rhythm on offense.

The third quarter was much like the lackluster first as Philadelphia built a 92-73 lead heading into the fourth. When the Sixers defeated the Celtics in the season opener, they came back from an 18-point deficit. They would have no such challenge awaiting them in the final period.

A 22-7 run by the Sixers proved decisive as the Celtics lacked the ability to mount any response. The spurt started with Iverson knocking down a 17-footer, then going in for a reverse layup. Boston failed to guard surprise starter Josh Davis, and the forward who has spent significant time in the CBA proceeded to hit three 3-pointers during the run. Davis nailed two perimeter shots in quick succession, pushing Philadelphia ahead, 78-61, with 5 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the quarter. Davis went 4 for 4 from the field, scoring 13 of his 23 points in the third. Iverson recorded 10 of his 28 in the third.

Boston closed to 12 points with a quick 6-0 spurt. But as they struggled on both ends, it was clearly not their night. Toward the end of the third, the Celtics' body language deteriorated the same way it had in other frustrating losses.


FLCeltsFan said...

You know, I really liked Ricky D. He always seemed to give it 100% plus when he was on the court and he always looked like he was having fun out there. He was one of my favorites in his time as a Celtic.

The date on this one threw me off. You have it as 11/25/14.

Lex said...

I kind of liked him, too.

A tweak here and there in the old noggin and he could have been something special.

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