Sixers ad-lib in win over Celtics

Posted: January 31, 2014

BOSTON - With his dad, a high school coaching legend in the New England area, looking on, 76ers coach Brett Brown no doubt would have loved to design a game-ending play where everything went right and a layup at the buzzer sealed the win.

That ending was there to be had and Brown did do a good coaching job at the end. But there was no expert drawing of plays. Instead, he let his team figure it out on its own. And after Michael Carter-Williams grabbed a defensive rebound with 10.7 seconds to go, he handed it off to Evan Turner who broke down defender Jerryd Bayless and deposited a tough pull-up three-footer to give the Sixers a 95-94 win over the Boston Celtics to improve to 15-31.

Turner, who missed a free throw to tie it and had a very rough shooting night (6-for-17) still wanted the ball at the end of the game.

"I was still shocked that I missed the free throw to tie it and there had to be something going on as I airballed four times," he said. "Coach just said get the rebound and as soon as we got the rebound I just went and got it from Mike and I saw Jerryd Bayless switch on me as opposed to Jeff Green so I knew I had a little bit of an advantage if I would have shot over him. I just put it up and it felt good and it went in.

"I was going to go get it so I wasn't looking over to anybody. If there was a play called, I wasn't listening at all."

That's a good thing because there was nothing to listen to. Brown had decided that a free fall was the best way to go.

"I'll tell you, it's one of the most difficult decisions because it seems like life is in slow motion," said Brown. "Do you call a timeout, don't you call a timeout? I've learned through the ages that the busted play, the broken play, the random play is probably as good as an environment as you're going to get, often. Michael on a great defensive rebound and pushing it on a spread court and sort of a broken type of atmosphere, we decided to go with and not call a timeout and we were lucky that it worked."

Both teams came into the game on three-game losing streaks. During their skid, the 76ers couldn't stop anyone, allowing 110.3 points a game. During their three-straight losses, the Celtics couldn't score on anyone, dropping only 83.3 a game and shooting a frigid 38.9 percent in the losses.

Uh, something had to give. In a battle of two storied franchises that are currently engaged in rebuilding, this may be the worst both team are playing this season.

After starting the season a respectable 12-14 under first-year coach Brad Stevens, Boston has now lost 19 of their past 22 games. The win for the Sixers was just their third in 12 games.

Hard to remember those years of Erving and Bird and Malone and McHale and Toney and Ainge, huh? Heck, it's difficult to believe these two just 2 years ago played seven terrific games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But that's where we are in the year of the NBA rebuild, though Carter-Williams wasn't thinking of any of that after helping secure the win in front of many family members and friends, having grown up just about 30 miles from Boston.

"It was great to play in front of everybody and I'm glad we got the win," MCW said after posting 10 points and seven assists. Of the last play he said: "Once we had the ball we had a little bit of movement already so we weren't really stagnant. We had some movement and Evan was able to get in the lane and hit a nice shot."

Spencer Hawes paced the Sixers with 20 points, while Turner and Thaddeus Young each had 16, with Turner also dealing eight assists. James Anderson added 13 points.

Jared Sullinger scored 24 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for the Celtics, who played without Rajon Rondo (resting knee) and fell to 15-33.

For the Sixers, limiting a team to 94 points is something that Brown would like to see more from a team that gives up the most points per game in the league.

"There are always those bursts that we come down and we take a bad shot and they run it back at us," he said. You feel the game flip so easily at times."

It didn't flip last night until that final play. The one not called by the coach.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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