The last dozen or so times the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers faced off, we saw a gritty, tough, defense-heavy style of basketball being played. Friday night, things started with high-percentage shots and an up-and-down flow, but ended much the same, as the Sixers beat the Celtics by a score of 95-94 in overtime.
Evan Turner hit a spot-up jumper with 3.9 seconds left to put the Sixers ahead by one, and on the other end, Rajon Rondo—who finished with his first triple-double of the season—missed what would have been a game-winner.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points, but needed 24 shots to get there, and Evan Turner managed just 26 points on a whopping 26 shots. It wasn't a pretty contest, but it was close, and in the end, Philadelphia made one more play.
Rajon Rondo: A
Before Friday night's game, the Celtics were 22-1 when Rondo recorded a triple-double, as he did in this one. That line now falls to 22-2, but would've been 23-1 had he not slipped on the court attempting what would have been a game-winning baseline jumper at the buzzer.
Rondo started the game by posting a ridiculous 10-point, eight-rebound, five-assist first quarter, dominating the pace (as he tends to do) and getting all his teammates involved. He cooled off in the box score as the game went on, but never in his intensity, as he dove for several loose balls.
He finished with 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds in 42 minutes.
Jrue Holiday: B
He's playing like an All-Star this season, and after starting slow, Holiday came out in the second half and was aggressive on offense, getting into the paint and creating his own shot. He fouled out in overtime, and the Sixers proceeded to struggle without his ball-handling abilities.
Jason Richardson: B-
Richardson started on fire, scoring seven points in the first quarter and dominating his individual matchup with Jason Terry. He finished with 13 points and five steals, but missed all five of his three-point attempts.
Jason Terry: F
He struggled early, missing a few wide-open shots from behind the arc and clanking a runner long off the back of the rim. And he struggled late, misfiring on just about everything he chucked up.
On the defensive end, Terry was abused by Philadelphia's larger backcourt players, such as Jason Richardson and Evan Turner. It wasn't a pleasant outing.
Terry didn't score his first basket until a contested three-pointer with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was his only basket in 44 minutes of play.
Evan Turner: B+
Turner had an awesome first quarter, scoring 11 points and keeping Philadelphia in the contest. He kept it going for the rest of the game, staying aggressive on drives to the basket and knocking down corner three-pointers with Ray Allen-like consistency.
His big moment came with 3.9 seconds left when he rose up to knock down the game-winning jumper, and he grabbed 10 rebounds. But overall, Turner scored 26 points on 26 shots, which is absolutely atrocious.
Paul Pierce: B+
In what was probably Pierce's most impressive outing of the season, the Celtics used him over and over on mismatches against smaller defenders, and he punished them all night long. It wasn't the most efficient night (9-of-24 from the floor, 1-of-8 from the three-point line), but Pierce showed some of his old spunk, throwing down several dunks and attempting 12 free throws.
Brandon Bass: D-
Bass was spewing garbage tonight. Apart from the seven rebounds, he attempted just one shot, and looked tentative where he normally would rise up to knock one down.
Thaddeus Young: B
Apart from a monstrous put-back dunk in the second quarter, Young had a relatively quiet first half on 4-of-12 shooting. But he was big in overtime, hanging around the basket and tipping in loose balls. He finished with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Lavoy Allen: C
Stuck with the task of defending Kevin Garnett, Allen managed only eight points on five shots, but he grabbed 11 rebounds.
Kevin Garnett: B+
Garnett was solid throughout the contest on both ends of the court. He missed a bunny layup with less than a minute to go, but made up for it by hitting a game-tying jumper with just 7.7 seconds left in regulation.
Garnett finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Spencer Hawes: B
He did all the little things Friday night: grabbing loose balls, knocking down mid-range jump shots and playing solid defense, highlighted by a controversial block of a Paul Pierce layup as the third quarter buzzer sounded.
Hawes finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes.
Jeff Green: A-
Green scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He was incredibly active, relentlessly attacking the basket to the point where nobody should doubt his aggressiveness anymore. On one particular play, he caught a pass in a secondary transition and took two defenders on by himself, drawing a foul at the rim.
Rookie forward Jared Sullinger made his impact felt early on by controlling the glass and making solid defensive rotations. He already appears to have mastered Boston's incredibly difficult defensive system.
Elsewhere, Courtney Lee air-balled a three-pointer from the corner that would've given the Celtics a four-point lead with less than a minute to play. A huge, and shocking, miss from him.
Apart from Spencer Hawes, the Sixers got very little from their bench. Damien Wilkins and Dorell Wright scored six points together in 30 minutes combined.