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BOSTON – Celtics leads only exist to be broken. Going up against perhaps the worst team in the league, who was without their best player, the C’s saw a 26-point lead evaporate over the second half as the Sixers came to within three points of the first tie game since it started.
But then the Marcuses showed up, as Thornton hit a pair of threes and Smart had a rare driving layup. The Celtics widened the lead back to eight and never looked back, wrapping things up on a 107-96 win.
"We played 14, 16 minutes of bad basketball," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "You go through so many of these situations in the year. I was happy with how we responded."
Jared Sullinger led the way with a 22-point, seven-rebound and seven-assist performance, as the Sixers paid dearly for putting an undersized Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on him for most of the game.
Sullinger is starting to climb his way out of the supposed doghouse, as his play in the past two games has been one of the main driving forces behind the Celtics’ three-game winning streak. This is their third three-game winning streak of the season and they visit the Bucks Saturday night with a chance to make it a season-high four.
All of that strong play was nearly all for naught, as the Sixers dominated the third quarter and continued their march through the early fourth. "We played good defense," Everett native Nerlens Noel said of the run. Although not the most talkative player after a rough game in his return to Boston, the Sixers bench provided much needed size, as Hollis Thompson helped them fight back.
As the Sixers cut the lead down to just three, the first time it was that close since 2-0, the Celtics responded with three quick baskets.
"You see how many leads we've blown early in the season. We're kind of used to it," Stevens said. "We know how to respond and we responded well."
Frazier Shines in NBA Debut Against Former Team
Although it was for the most part a poor night for Philly, former Celtics preseason roster member Tim Frazier made his NBA debut, dishing out 11 assists to go with his five points and five rebounds. Not too shabby for someone essentially filling in for Michael Carter-Williams.
"Didn't (feel real) until I got on the court," Frazier said after his debut. The Frazier story is especially unique considering all the variables surrounding it. After driving down to Boston during the worst week of blizzard-induced traffic in memory, just about everything went right for him.
"To drive down I-95, put on a different jersey and make his NBA debut? That’s one helluva story," said Brett Brown, Editor-in-Chief.
As he embarks on his first 10-day contract, he will have a chance to continue to prove his worth as MCW deals with his injury. As he showed Friday night, all he needs is opportunity.