Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and the Celtics shot 54 percent as a team in a 92-79 win over the Sixers on Saturday night at TD Garden to earn a split of their home-and-home series. It was the C's first win in three tries against the team that took them to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.
In a statistical rarity, Garnett was held without a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997, when he was with the Timberwolves.
Jeff Green was a force again off the bench for the Celtics, scoring 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Paul Pierce added 13 points. Pierce reached the 4,000-assist plateau in the first half. The Celtics, meanwhile, played good defense all night, holding the Sixers to just 39 percent shooting.
Early on, the Celtics appeared to play inspired for coach Doc Rivers, who returned just 90 minutes before tip-off after attending the funeral for close friend Rick Majerus earlier in the day in Milwaukee.
The Celtics jumped out to leads of 8-2 and 22-12 before settling for a 24-16 advantage after one quarter. The Celtics put on the defensive clamps in the second quarter, holding the Sixers to 3-for-21 shooting and outscoring them 24-12 in the quarter to take a 48-28 halftime lead.
Boston built its lead up to 21 several times in the third quarter, including 65-44, on Courtney Lee's 3-pointer with 4:36 left in the period. But the Sixers finally woke up offensively and went on a 13-0 run to cut the lead to eight, 65-57, on an Evan Turner floater in the lane with 1:17 left in the quarter. But Garnett, who came out with seven minutes left in the quarter, stopped the run with a mid-range jumper. The Celtics scored the final five points of the quarter and took a 70-57 lead into the fourth.
The Sixers could get no closer as the Celtics built their lead back up to 18 with just over six minutes left. Rajon Rondo had seven points and 11 assists in the victory.
The Celtics improved to 11-9 and moved into a tie for third place in the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia, which fell to 11-9. The Celtics are off until Wednesday, when they host the Mavericks at 8 p.m.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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