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Celtics survive third quarter scare, beat Sixers 107-96

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics played host to their Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, surviving a late Sixers surge to earn their 19th win of the season, 107-96.

Boston dominated from the outset as Avery Bradley paced the Cs with seven quick points in the opening three minutes of the first quarter, prompting Sixers head coach Brett Brown to take an early timeout. Despite the quick stoppage in play, though, the Celtics came out and continued their high level of play on both ends for the remainder of the period.

Offensively, the ball never seemed to stop moving and Boston was able to get a couple of really good looks thanks to their unselfish play and, defensively, the Celtics made life tough for Philadelphia, holding them to just 15 points in the frame.

Boston was then able to further its lead in the second quarter thanks to strong play from Tyler Zeller.

Zeller poured in seven points while contributing a couple of blocks and a steal on the defensive end while Jared Sullinger recorded seven of his own in the final minutes of the half to give the Cs a 60-42 halftime lead.

Unfortunately, Brad Stevens' crew came out relatively flat in the third and stumbled their way through the majority of the period. Philadelphia capitalized on Boston's poor play, outscoring the Celtics 27-15 in the quarter. Now, what had been an 18 point lead at halftime was down to just six entering the fourth.

The fourth wasn't much better for the Celtics. After a Jae Crowder three and Zeller layup pushed Boston's lead back up to 11, the Sixers pounded the ball down low and got a big three from Hollis Thompson to bring it all the way back to a three point game.

Boston struggled to find good looks whenever they had the ball in the first six minutes of the final quarter and were too slow in getting to the ball defensively.

But after a couple of big threes from Marcus Thornton, the Celtics seemed to gain a second wind, especially Sullinger. Sully was a monster on the boards and had a few key put back buckets following tough offensive boards.

Boston never looked back after that. Sullinger continued to go to work on the block and Marcus Smart and Crowder played their typical hounding style of defense the rest of the way. The Cs should have won this game by 30 and they most likely would have if not for Philly's third quarter run.

Nevertheless, the Celtics ended up with a win after playing near perfect basketball for about 60 percent of this game.

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