PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 12 straight Celtics points late in the fourth quarter and tied his season high with 37 points to lead Boston to a 107-106 victory over the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Avery Bradley added 20 points for Boston, which won its ninth straight game against the 76ers.
Rookie Dario Saric tied his career high with 21 points while adding 12 rebounds for Philadelphia, which dressed just 10 players. The 76ers lost their sixth straight.
Joel Embiid, who leads the 76ers in scoring (18.7 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg), missed his seventh game as part of the team’s rehab plan to not play him on consecutive nights after sitting out the last two seasons with a foot injury.
Philadelphia also was without Robert Covington, who sprained his knee in Friday’s 105-88 home loss to Orlando, and Jerryd Bayless, who missed his fourth straight game and 17th this season with a wrist injury. Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) have been out all season.
Thomas scored six straight points to make it 98-91, matching the Celtics’ biggest lead, with 3:05 left. The 76ers scored seven of the next nine to pull within 100-98 with just over a minute left. Thomas’ driving attempt was blocked by Jahlil Okafor and then Saric tied it at 100 with 34 seconds left on a layup that just beat the shot clock.
After a timeout, Thomas blew by two defenders for an easy layup that put the Celtics up 102-100 with 30.2 seconds left.
Hollis Thompson missed on a drive on Philadelphia’s ensuing possession. The Celtics got the rebound and Bradley made one of two free throws with 16 seconds left for a 103-100 lead. Saric’s tying 3-point attempt fell short and Marcus Smart made a pair of free throws on the other end.
Thomas and Bradley combined for 19 of the Celtics’ 29 points in the third quarter to help Boston pull even at 74 entering the fourth.
The 76ers led by as many as 11 points in the opening half before taking a 53-45 lead into the break. The key was 3-point shooting. Philadelphia was 9 for 18 from the arc in the opening 24 minutes while the Celtics were 3 for 11.
The Celtics entered fifth in the league in both 3-pointers made (11.3) and attempts (31.1) per game.
Celtics: This was the first of four meetings between the teams. Boston will host the next two games, on Jan. 6 and Feb. 15, before returning to Philadelphia on March 19. . Thomas’ career high is 38. … Boston finished 8 for 26 from 3-point range.
76ers: Philadelphia wore throwback jerseys from 1966-67 in honor of the 76ers NBA champions from that season. Billy Cunningham, a player on that team who later coached the 76ers to the 1983 NBA title, rang the replica Liberty Bell during pregame festivities. And many members of the team were recognized in a halftime ceremony.
Celtics: Look to end a four-game losing streak to the Rockets when they visit Houston on Monday night.
76ers: Cap a four-game homestand by hosting Denver on Monday night.
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