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Ray Allen scored 22 points, and Paul Pierce recovered after missing his first seven shots to score 11 in the second half and lead the Boston Celtics to their 14th straight victory, 84-80 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
Shaquille O'Neal had 13 points and nine rebounds, but he missed two free throws with 1:02 left and Boston nursing a two-point lead. Philadelphia had two chances to tie it, but Andre Iguodala slipped and turned the ball over the first time and then had his shot blocked by Kevin Garnett the next.
Allen hit a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left to ice it.
Elton Brand had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 15 points for Philadelphia, which was coming off a 45-point loss to the Chicago Bulls - its worst in three years.
The Celtics have not lost since Nov. 21, the second game of their only two-game losing streak of the season. Their 14-game winning streak matches the fifth-longest in the history of the NBA's most-decorated franchise, and it ties the third-longest in 46 years.
The 2007-08 team, which won Boston's 17th NBA title, won a franchise-record 19 in a row.
Lou Williams scored 12 points and ex-Celtic Tony Battie had 10 for Philadelphia, which lost 121-76 to the Bulls on Tuesday night. That had Celtics coach Doc Rivers sending angry text messages to his former assistant, Chicago's Tom Thibodeau.
"You don't want to be the next one, but we are," Rivers said before the game.
The Celtics opened a quick lead in the first and led 23-17 by the end of one, but the Sixers scored seven straight points, five of them by Williams, to take the lead early in the second. It was 44-38 at halftime, and Pierce hadn't scored; Garnett had just four points and a team-high three rebounds.
Brand made a pair of jumpers early in the third that helped Philadelphia hold onto an eight-point lead, but after falling behind 48-40 the Celtics scored 14 of the next 16 points. Pierce, who missed his first seven shots in the game, hit a jumper with 8:42 left in the third and then followed it with a 3-pointer from the left side that cut the deficit to one.
But he did not make another basket until he stole the ball from Jodie Meeks with 5:20 left in the game and went in for a slam dunk that cut a four-point deficit to two points, 72-70. He made another, a fallaway jumper from just outside the key, with 96 seconds left to give Boston an 82-78 lead.
Brand made a short jumper, then fouled out when he pulled O'Neal down to keep him from scoring an easy layup. O'Neal missed both foul shots, but Iguodala slipped near the lane and Garnett came away with the ball.
After Boston failed to score, Iguodala went to the basket but Garnett tipped the shot and Pierce came away with the rebound.
This program aired on December 23, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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