Brand's tip-in ends Boston streak
It's been a streak-busting week for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Days after snapping their own 12-game skid, the 76ers ended Boston's run at 11 wins, beating the first-place Celtics 98-97 on Friday night on Elton Brand's tip-in with 7.7 seconds left.
"We closed out a game against a team winning 11 in a row, the best in the league," said Brand, who had 23 points and eight rebounds. "It bodes well for our confidence."
The Sixers ran off 12 consecutive losses before beating Golden State on Monday - their sixth win of the season, none of them against teams with a winning record. They had won only once in their previous 14 games and they were without newly acquired Allen Iverson, who has arthritis in his left knee and had it drained twice this week.
So they didn't figure to pose much of a challenge to Boston, which hadn't lost in almost a month and came into the game tied for the best record in the NBA. Boston led by 15 points in the third quarter before Philadelphia took an 86-84 lead - its first since the opening minutes.
Brand tipped in Marreese Speights' missed jumper in the closing seconds, and Paul Pierce missed a jumper at the other end that would have put Boston ahead. Ray Allen was unable to get off a good shot after the rebound.
The Celtics fell to 8-4 at home. (They are 12-1 on the road.) In 2007-08, when they won their 18th NBA title, they were 35-6 at home and 31-10 on the road.
"Tough one to swallow," Pierce said. "When you have a team on the ropes like that, especially at home ... we've got to do a better job. I don't know what the problem is about us playing at home this year."
Speights scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, Andre Iguodala scored 18 points and Willie Green added 16 for Philadelphia.
Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Kendrick Perkins had 12 points and 16 rebounds, Allen scored 17 and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 10 assists. The Celtics played most of the game without Rasheed Wallace, who was ejected in the second quarter after drawing two technicals and having to be restrained by assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
"Whether he's right or wrong doesn't matter. You've got to try to control yourself to stay in the game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "He understands his value to the team, and his teammates understand his value. At some point, they'll talk to him."
Wallace was ejected for the 30th time in his NBA career - the most for any player since 1992. He also has 10 technicals this season; 16 is an automatic suspension.
He was not available for comment after the game.
"He's been doing it a long time," Rivers said. "He's an expert at it. But we knew that when we got him. I still love him."
The Celtics led 59-44 early in the third quarter before Philadelphia scored 10 straight - six of them by Green. Boston led 73-67 with a minute left in the third before the Sixers cut it to two points, then made it a one-point game, 81-80, with 8:27 to play.
It was tied at 84 when Perkins fouled Brand with the shot clock winding down. He hit both free throws to give the Sixers their first lead since the opening minutes. The teams swapped leads, and Garnett was fouled going for an alley-oop with 23 seconds left, making the free throws to put Boston ahead 97-96.
Tony Allen had a season-high 10 points, all in the first half in his fifth game back from a right ankle injury. Brand scored 12 off the bench in the half, and Perkins had 13 boards by the break.
NOTES: The Celtics had a pregame ceremony to recognize Ray Allen's 20,000th point, which came Dec. 10 against Washington. Garnett presented him with the official game ball. He's the sixth player to reach the milestone as Celtic, and the 33rd in NBA history. ... Celtics fan Chris Miller, of nearby Quincy, made a half-court shot during a break to win $50,000.