Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart did all they could to rescue the Boston Celtics.
But the duo couldn’t save the C’s from losing their third consecutive game for the first time this season.
Kemba Walker poured in 26 points and Smart netted a season-high 24 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Philadelphia 76ers as the Celtics fell, 109-98, on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown took a big hit to their All-Stars campaigns as the young duo combined to go 6-for-25 from the floor, Walker and Smart stepped up in big ways.
Walker, who sprained his left thumb near the end of the second quarter and went to the locker room, returned to start the second half and didn’t miss a beat, splashing in jumpers repeatedly. Walker finished 10-of-20 from the floor and also got Boston off to a strong start by scoring 13 points in the first quarter.
Smart had his best offensive performance of the season and, like Walker, he did his damage on the perimeter. Smart, who hit 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc, connected on back-to-back 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter to put the Celtics in front, 80-77, headed into the final frame.
But the Celtics couldn't maintain the lead as the 76ers, behind the play of Josh Richardson, Ben Simmons and Al Horford rose to the occasion and outscored Boston, 32-18, in the fourth quarter,
Philadelphia played without star center Joel Embiid, who is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his left hand, but got a game-high 29 points from Richardson and Horford turned in 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists against his former team.
Unlike recent contests, the Celtics dictated play at the start by hitting their first five 3-pointers and opened up a 15-point lead in the second quarter. But the C’s couldn't hold the advantage with their offense going cold, routinely settling for contested jumpers and lacking ball movement.
Philadelphia also locked in on defense to wipe away the deficit and went on a 21-6 run bridging the second and third quarters, as the 76ers defeated the Celtcs for a third time this season.