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Celtics blow big lead, fall to Sixers

For the fourth time out of five, the Boston Celtics lost a Friday night home game, putting a sour taste in Celtics fans' start to the weekend. The Celtics fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 98-97 in front of the TD Garden crowd.  Don't blame the officials, don't blame the cold weather, and don't blame the traffic getting here- blame it on the lack of all around enthusiasm from the Celtics.

"I think our energy sucked all night," Kevin Garnett admitted.

The Celtics were up 59-44 early in the third quarter to a poor Philadelphia 76ers team, but could not hold the lead. Instead of putting the 76ers away for good in the third quarter, the Celtics dropped their energy level and let the 76ers crawl back into it. The 76ers only trailed by four points going into the fourth quarter, and took the lead with 6:02 left in the game for the first time since the first quarter.

"We have to do a better job playing better at home," Paul Pierce said. "I mean, I don't know what it is about us playing at home this year. We have to come out with a little more energy from start to finish. There in the third quarter you know you gave a team life. And when you give a bad team some life they're going to play, and that's what we did."

"We played with this, you know, this swagger- the losing swagger," said Doc Rivers. "It's one thing to have the winning swagger when you go out, you feel great about your team, and you go out and play. And then there's another thing when you just show up and you think the other team's going to lay over because you're the Celtics."

Kendrick Perkins, who scored 12 points and grabbed 16 boards, was quick to echo Doc's sentiments in that maybe the Celtics just assumed they were going to win.

"I thought when we went up 16 or whatever we were up, we kind of let our guards down, Perkins said. "I don't think we executed right. I think sometimes you win a couple games in a row you tend to have this swagger like you can walk on the court and just win games. We played against a hungry team that needed a victory, they played hard tonight and they came out and just got a win- they kept fighting."

The Celtics were forced to play most of the game without Rasheed Wallace, who was thrown out in the second quarter with his second technical of the game. Wallace was on the officials about a previous call during a timeout, and would not let up. The loss of Wallace clearly hurt the Celtics down the stretch.

"It affected us a lot," Perkins said. "We needed Rasheed tonight. We sure could have used him in a lot of ways but we still know we should have won the game."

Rasheed Wallace had to be held back by Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau after being ejected from the game.

"I was more scared for Tom [Thibodeau] than I was for anybody else," Rivers joked. "Tom is tough. ‘Tibs' has been on the weights now for about three months and it finally paid off for him today."

As for Wallace's actions during the game, nobody is really surprised.

"He's been doing it a long time," Rivers said. "He's an expert at it. But we knew that when we got him, and I still love him. I think he's great, he's been great for our team, but he's going to have some of these days."

While it seems that Rivers is somewhat downplaying Wallace's technical fouls, we saw firsthand tonight the repercussions that can occur if Wallace's temper gets ahead of him, like it has done many times in the past. For the season, Wallace has 10 technical fouls. Once he gets to 16 technical fouls, he will be suspended for the next game and every other technical foul after that will result in a one game suspension. Wallace is the first guy off this Celtics bench, and with Marquis Daniels also down, that left two of the Celtics best bench players off the floor.

On the flip side, the 76ers' Elton Brand and Marreese Speights combined to score 40 points and grab 18 rebounds coming off the bench.

The bright spot off the bench tonight for the Celtics was Tony Allen. Allen scored 10 points, all in the second quarter, but then didn't do much of anything in the second half.

"I just think we have to buckle down, make some better decisions, close out games," said Allen.

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