Sixers thrash Celtics
Weary team gets humbled on road
PHILADELPHIA - In this humbling and distressing season, performances such as Wednesday night’s against the 76ers aren’t so surprising anymore for the Celtics. They have proven capable of putrid, ghastly outings, especially when fatigue is involved.
Coming off two overtime games in three days, the Celtics were asking a lot of themselves to keep pace with the athletic 76ers. After a few minutes, it was apparent they had nothing to offer.
The crowd at the Wells Fargo Center was treated to a Philadelphia clinic, erasing any doubt for now about the best team in the Atlantic Division.
The 76ers never trailed, going on a 15-4 first-quarter run to take a commanding lead, seemingly punishing the Celtics for years of painful losses by past generations. Coach Doug Collins played his starters into the fourth quarter and the 76ers made a point in a 103-71 victory over the exhausted Celtics.
It was the Celtics’ worst loss of the season and snapped a five-game winning streak.
“We just didn’t have it,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “We were really sloppy. Honestly, we missed a ton of open shots, Brandon [Bass], Kevin [Garnett], all of them, just missed shot after shot. Everything was front rim. We tried to go zone. We tried to press. We tried to go small. Nothing was working.’’
Boston shot 35 percent (28 for 80), and when the Big Three couldn’t make an open shot in the first half, it was apparent that they were spent following Tuesday’s overtime win over the Rockets.
Rivers pulled the Big Three by the end of the third quarter, and the 76ers piled it on, launching 3-pointers and throwing down fast-break dunks deep into the fourth.
With 3:34 left, Rivers was forced to call a timeout after the 76ers converted a Jodie Meeks fast-break dunk, and a 3-pointer and then a crossover fake and jumper by Lou Williams. It had been reduced to a pickup game, and the Celtics were laughed off the court.
It was the 76ers’ most-lopsided win over the Celtics since a 126-94 victory at the old Spectrum on March 22, 1981.
When asked if the 76ers’ showboating bothered him, Rivers said, “I never get bothered by that. I told our guys, ‘If they are getting dunks, that means you’re doing something wrong defensively.’ I always tell our guys that.
“One of the young guys said, ‘Hey, they’re dunking,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, stop it, that’s your job. If they’re getting to the rim, that means your defense is bad.’
“I thought Doug was fine. If I was a player and I was in and I had a 40-point lead, and I could get a dunk, I’m getting a dunk. If you are going to let me dunk, why shouldn’t I? Some of those guys haven’t played at all, they can’t wait to get to the rim. I’ve never had a problem with that.’’
Former Ohio State standout Evan Turner, considered a disappointment during his rookie year of 2010-11, scored 10 of his career-high 26 points in the first quarter as the 76ers led, 33-17. Turner scored on an array of floaters, long-range shots, and crafty drives to the basket.
He shook Paul Pierce on a crossover in the third quarter, scored on a bank shot, and slapped the hand of a fan after being fouled. Pierce said he had no issue with the display.
“This is one of them [games] you just throw away, don’t even go back to it, reference it, nothing,’’ said Pierce, who led Boston with 16 points in 26 minutes. “We know this team isn’t 30 points better than us. I don’t like to make no excuses but we know we’re a better team than what we showed. I don’t have no issue [with the fourth quarter]. They’re a young team. I probably would have done the same thing.’’
The Philadelphia barrage began in the first half, when it ran out to a 49-21 lead as the Celtics declined to play any defense and couldn’t convert an open shot.
The biggest culprit was Kevin Garnett, who had played nearly 80 minutes in the previous two games and was the beneficiary of several open looks in the early going. He missed seven of his first nine attempts and finished with just 8 points and five rebounds, after averaging 19.5 points and 10.6 rebounds in the previous six.
Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo continued his perplexing stretch by looking confused and frustrated at times. He finished with 5 points, 8 assists, and 1 rebound.
Ray Allen did not convert a field goal for the first time in two years, typifying the team’s frustration.
“Offensively we didn’t do anything great, defensively we did nothing great,’’ he said. “We knew what we needed to do, but we never got a chance to start. Sometimes you get beat and there’s no rhyme or reason to why it is. You always chalk it up to having seven or eight nights like this a year and you hope not to have them, but even years when we won 60 games we had them.’’