Celtics rout Sixers, extend division leadApr 9, 2012 - 2:11 AM Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics are once again in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division after dismantling the struggling Philadelphia 76ers, 103-79, at TD Garden.
The Celtics' seventh win in nine games, coupled with the Sixers' fourth straight loss, gives Boston a three-game division over Philadelphia and the New York Knicks with 10 games remaining.
Kevin Garnett led five Celtics in double figures with 20 points, while Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce chipped in 18 and 17 points, respectively. Rajon Rondo handed out 15 assists, while fellow backcourt mates Avery Bradley and Ray Allen combined for 28 points.
The Sixers, who had led or were tied for the division lead from December 29- March 30, were paced by Nikola Vucevic's 14 points and 13 rebounds. They are now tied with the Knicks for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Holding a 25-22 lead entering the second quarter, the Celtics clamped down defensively and held the Sixers without a field goal during an 18-2 run that yielded a 45-26 advantage.
"I thought the second unit in the second quarter was as good as you can get," raved Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I told our guys at halftime I thought that was the best pick-setting game we've had."
Allen highlighted the eight-minute spurt with a pair of three-pointers, and Boston went into the locker room holding a 50-36 cushion.
The Sixers shot 6-of-22 (27 percent) in the second quarter and committed their season average in turnovers (11) in the first half alone.
"This team is taking it to another level, they make you look bad," Sixers head coach Doug Collins said of the Celtics. "They're playing great."
The trend continued in the third, thanks to Garnett scoring on consecutive possessions to jump-start an 11-0 run, pushing the difference to 61-38 less than 3 1/2 minutes into the second half.
The lead reached as high as 28, and the visitors never seriously threatened their 84-63 deficit entering the fourth.
Rondo has logged double-digit assists for 17 straight games...Boston plays at Miami on Tuesday, the same day the Sixers visit the Nets...Philadelphia plays eight of its last 10 games on the road...The Sixers were trying to sweep the season series against the Celtics for the first time since the 2000-01 season...Philadelphia has scored below 80 points 12 times this season...The Sixes are 0-8 when giving up 100-plus points this season.
- PHILADELPHIA: 79
Apr 8 8:18 PM
- PHILADELPHIA: 63
End of 3rd
Apr 8 7:50 PM
- PHILADELPHIA: 36
Apr 8 7:08 PM
- PHILADELPHIA: 22
End of 1st
Apr 8 6:36 PM
- PHILADELPHIA: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 8 6:12 PM
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