2008 C's Second Fastest to 50
PHILADELPHIA - Back in the 1991-92 season, the Celtics enjoyed Larry Bird's swan song and a 50-win campaign. Now, 15 years later, they are enjoying the arrival of Kevin Garnett and first the first 50-win season since Bird departed.
The Celtics became the first NBA team this season to reach the 50-win mark with a 100-86 victory over the Sixers at a sold-out Wachovia Center last night. At 50-12, they are the second-fastest Celtics team in franchise history to the milestone. The 1964-65 and 1985-86 teams both reached 50 wins with only 11 losses.
With their ninth straight win, the Celtics tied a season high accomplished twice already. They have won four straight on the road and improved to 7-0 on the road against Atlantic Division teams.
Garnett earned his 23d double-double of the season with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds in 32 minutes.
The Sixers owned a 5-13 record after a 113-103 loss to the Celtics here Dec. 5. Billy King had been fired as Philadelphia's general manager a day earlier. A little over three months later, the Sixers entered the game against Boston with a 25-20 record since that meeting. They had won four straight and were seen by some as a potential first-round playoff opponent for Boston.
The Celtics, playing with intensity and focus, seemed to be taking the improved Sixers very seriously.
The Celtics made their first four shots, including two 3-pointers by Paul Pierce, to take an 11-0 lead. A Garnett jumper made it a 15-0 lead with 7:45 left in the first quarter. Reggie Evans made the second of two free throws to give the Sixers their first point, and the crowd cheered loudly. Andre Miller's lay-in was the Sixers' first field goal, trimming Boston's lead to 15-3.
The Sixers got back in the game by finishing the quarter with a 20-6 run, drawing within 26-20. The Celtics shot 61.1 percent from the field in the period and nailed four 3-pointers.
The Celtics activated Sam Cassell for the first time, and the veteran point guard said before the game that he wasn't nervous in the least. He relaxed during the day in the team hotel by watching the MTV show "Making the Band."
Cassell entered with the Celtics ahead, 38-34, and 7:07 left in the second quarter for Tony Allen, joining Eddie House in the backcourt. The renowned testy Philadelphia fans welcomed the 38-year-old's appearance with boos.
Cassell was replaced with 4:02 remaining in the half after picking up his third foul in just three minutes, this time on Miller. Miller's free throws tied the game at 44. Cassell was scoreless on 0-of-1 shooting with 1 assist to that point.
The Celtics finished the half with a 9-3 run to take a 53-47 halftime lead.
Sixers guard Willie Green (4 points) left the game in the first half with a low back strain.
The Celtics opened the third quarter with a 6-1 run to take a 59-48 lead. A Garnett alley-oop dunk gave Boston a 63-50 advantage with 7:18 left in the third.
The Celtics outscored the 76ers, 23-15, in the third to take a comfortable 76-62 lead.
With 5:11 left in the game, Garnett nailed a 22-foot jumper to give Boston a 93-77 lead. A second later, Philadelphia called a timeout and Garnett pumped his fist.
Cassell returned to the game with Boston ahead, 98-79, and the majority of the fans heading out of the arena.
He shot an air ball with 1:07 left in the game and finished it scoreless.