On Friday night, the Sixers (27-21) were aching for a win at the Wells Fargo Center. Coming off a loss to the Knicks that they really needed, the Sixers were in a “must-win” mode. It was especially apparent against Boston, seeing as a Celtics win would result in a tie atop the Atlantic Division standings.
A fast start for the Celtics, including a combined 6-6 shooting from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, had the Sixers down 19-9 midway through the first. But once again, thanks to the “Night Shift” of Thad Young and Lou Williams, a few buckets here-and-there mixed in with some good defense saw the Sixers down only 6 at the end of the first quarter, 32-26. They tied the game midway through the second quarter on an Elton Brand tip-in.
But this fun, competitive game quickly turned into a scary situation when Mickael Pietrus was fouled hard by Lou Williams trying to go up for a layup and landed hard on his back and hurt his head. Pietrus did not get up for 10 minutes and had to be taken by stretcher to the hospital. Results came back negative and Pietrus flew back home on Saturday.
The Sixers and Celtics put all this drama behind themselves and got back to the game. The Sixers fought hard, but stingy Celtics defense had the halftime score at 49-43 in favor of Boston.
Elton Brand had a phenomenal 3rd period, however, scoring 14 of his 20 in the 12-minute stretch. The Sixers outscored the Celtics 37-17 in that 3rd period to take a 14-point lead going into the 4th.
In the 4th quarter, the Sixers would keep trading buckets with the Celtics and would not relinquish their lead. They would beat the Celtics in a must-win game, 99-86.
Brand led Philly with 20 points, adding 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Andre Iguodala had 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists, while Spencer Hawes and Thad Young combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds. Lou Williams had 19 points as well.
The Sixers (26-21) are now leading the Celtics by 1.5 games. The 76ers are next playing the Spurs in San Antonio, on Sunday. The Celtics are up against the Wizards in Boston, on Sunday.