BOSTON – Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia 76ers have won two of their last four games.
No big deal, you say? Well, when you consider they had dropped 26 straight games before going on this mini-.500 run, this is news.
“We’re on a roll,” coach Brett Brown quipped after his team rode rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams and center Henry Sims to a 111-102 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Turning serious, Brown said, “My motivation, where I’m most proud of these guys, is you see what I saw. They stay together and they play. They bring their A-effort more times than they don’t, they stay together, they cheer for each other. We have a nine-man rotation tonight. They’re in they’re out, they play for one another.
“To look on a court at this stage of the year, given the record that we’ve had — there’s what, six games left? — I’m just so proud of their ability to play as a team and continue to do the right thing and have a true desire to get better.”
Carter-Williams, the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, scored seven straight points for his team in the fourth quarter. Sims had a career-high 24 points, 14 from the foul line, and grabbed nine rebounds to lift the Sixers (17-59) to their second win in as many tries in Boston this season.
The Celtics lost their seventh straight, their 12th in the last 13.
Carter-Williams was stripped by Celtics backup point guard Phil Pressey, who went in for a dunk that cut what had been a nine-point Sixers lead to five with 6:29 left. It was down to three when Carter-Williams did his thing.
“Earlier in the quarter, I made some key mistakes and gave up the lead a little bit and I just wanted to make up for those mistakes,” Carter-Williams said. “I was just trying to make hustle plays and down the stretch me and Thad (Young) were really working together.”
Young followed the Carter-Williams spurt with six points of his own and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Carter-Williams totaled 24 points, six assists and six rebounds, tossing in a steal and blocked shot.
Sims, who came in averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, went 14-for-18 from the foul line.
The effort by the visitors overcame the 29th career triple-double — 19 in the regular season — by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
Rondo had 11 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough as Boston fell to 23-53.
“We are all professionals and we have to do a better job than we are doing,” Rondo said. ” … We have to look deep, everyone has to look in the mirror individually and try to pull out whatever they can for these last six games.
“We have everything to play for. We have pride. We have pride as a team. Right now, we’re not displaying that at all.”
The Celtics are just 6-22 with Rondo on the court this season, 6-28 dating to last year.
Guard Jerryd Bayless led the Celtics with 23 points, forward Jeff Green scored 15, forward Brandon Bass had 12 points and 11 rebounds and forward Kelly Olynyk contributed 14 points.
The Sixers also 15 points from guard Elliot Williams.
The Celtics, down by eight points early in the second quarter, kept themselves in the game on the offensive glass — 13 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points in the first half. But they only had six offensive boards in the second half.
NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley was out again as his right foot woes continue. His strained Achilles will also sideline him on Saturday night at Detroit, the 21st and 22nd games he has missed this season. “The expectation is, he will be day to day starting Monday,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’re hopeful that he plays Wednesday in Atlanta.” … The back-to-back situation will also keep PG Rajon Rondo out against the Pistons — he has not and will not play back-to-backs this season after returning from knee surgery. … Sixers C Nerlens Noel, who has yet to play in his rookie season after knee surgery, was rumored for a possible debut in his hometown on Friday but did not suit up. … The Sixers are at Brooklyn on Saturday night. … Despite their losing ways, it appears the Sixers will not “catch” the Milwaukee Bucks for the league’s worst record. They are now three games ahead of Milwaukee. The team with the worst record has a 25 percent of getting the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The team that finishes next-to-last has a 19.9 percent chance.
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