PHILADELPHIA — In leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a rare victory Monday night, Michael Carter-Williams added another line to his resume.
The rookie point guard had 21 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and six assists as the Sixers held off the Boston Celtics 113-108.
“I think he’s been great,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “I think he feels and looks like he’s the Rookie of the Year, and he’s improved to that stage where I think it’s well-deserved.”
It was the 16th double-double of the season for Carter-Williams, and the 12th time he has had at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in one game. All other rookies combined had eight such games entering Monday’s action.
He said that while he would welcome the Rookie of the Year, others in his class — like Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke and Brooklyn Nets forward Mason Plumlee — also have played well.
Carter-Williams also said his focus is more on the here and now.
“I just want to end strong, end on a positive note — especially here at home,” he said. “Coach always tells us to keep playing. We’re not really playing for that much. We’re just playing for each other, really. That actually is playing for something.”
Backup guard Tony Wroten added 20 points for the Sixers (18-63), who snapped a four-game losing streak in their final home game of the season. Forward Thaddeus Young had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Rookie center-forward Kelly Olynyk had a career-high 28 points to lead Boston (25-56), which saw reserve guard Chris Johnson knock down an apparent game-tying 3-pointer with 0.9 of a second left. It was ruled, however, that Johnson stepped on the right sideline before he released the ball, negating the shot.
Forward Jeff Green added 27 points and guard Avery Bradley contributed 23 for the Celtics, who saw a two-game winning streak end. Guard Rajon Rondo finished with eight points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers led by 19 points in the third quarter, but Boston cut the gap to two by the end of the period.
“We could’ve laid down when we were down 17 after two quarters,” Celtics forward Brandon Bass said. “We’re not going to make the playoffs, but we kept fighting and it made it a game.”
Philadelphia assembled a 9-2 run early in the final period to increase its lead to 97-88 with 8:02 left, as Wroten and backup forward Brandon Davies scored four points each.
Boston rallied behind Green, who crammed eight points into a 1:36 span, and Olynyk. The rookie’s two free throws with 1:59 to play cut the gap to 105-103.
Carter-Williams made a free throw with 1:42 left, then stole Olynyk’s pass. That led to two free throws by Wroten with 1:24 to play, giving Philadelphia a 108-103 lead.
Center Henry Sims then answered a jumper by Olynyk with one of his own with 25.1 seconds left, giving the Sixers a 110-105 lead.
Still, Boston wasn’t done. Green’s three free throws with 15.3 seconds left cut the gap to 111-108, and the Sixers subsequently turned the ball over. Johnson then stepped out of bounds before his potential tying shot.
Boston burst out to a 21-11 lead early in the game, as Green scored eight points and Bradley seven. By the end of the quarter, the Sixers drew even at 33-all, and early in the second period Philadelphia ripped off 12 straight points, four of those by Davies, to go up 49-38.
In all, the Sixers outscored Boston 34-17 in the second quarter to claim a 67-50 halftime lead. Carter-Williams collected 12 points and eight rebounds in the half, and the Sixers shot a robust 59.6 percent. Wroten added 11 points and Young and reserve guard Elliot Williams contributed 10 each in the first half.
Green led Boston with 14 in the half.
The Sixers were still leading 82-65 with 5:04 left in the third quarter. Boston finished the quarter on a 19-4 spree to close the gap to 86-84. Bradley had 11 of those points, and Johnson buried two 3-pointers.
NOTES: Philadelphia G Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 18.4 points on 53 percent shooting over the past nine games. … Sixers F Brandon Davies equaled a career high with 11 points. … Sixers first-year coach Brett Brown said before the game he “really loved this year, in a very strange way.” At the same time, he added, “This hall pass, to a point, is getting a little bit over. We need to make progress in a different way next year, with our own.” … Boston coach Brad Stevens is also nearing the end of his first season. “It wasn’t tougher than I bargained for necessarily, but it’s been tough. It just never stops. … I think that you always have to be in the moment.”… C/F Jared Sullinger (ankle), G Jerryd Bayless (knee) and C/F Kris Humphries (knee) did not play for Boston. … Second-year F Arnett Moultrie returned to the Sixers on Monday after serving a five-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. He did not play against the Celtics, though.
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