Andre Iguodala snapped a tie game with five straight points in the final 90 seconds to help the Philadelphia 76ers storm back from 15 points down and stun the Boston Celtics 92-83 on Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers were a team reborn in the second half and played like a squad that refused to roll over for the championship-tested Celtics. They tied the series at 2-2 and guaranteed a return home for one more game.
Iguodala, one of the more maligned athletes in recent Philadelphia history, put the Sixers ahead 85-83 and buried a 3-pointer for a five-point lead.
Game 5 is Monday in Boston.
– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press
The Celtics jumped out to a 14-0 lead in Game 4, silencing a Philadelphia crowd that was hoping their team would come out with a better focus in their attempt to even the series. Instead, the Sixers struggled to put the ball in the ocean. They shot 23 percent from the field in the first half, negating the benefit of 21 free throw attempts and failing to take advantage of a six-minute stretch in which the Celtics didn’t score a single point. Sixers guard Evan Turner was 2 of 14 before halftime.
But the Celtics went almost seven minutes without a field goal to start the third quarter, a drought that allowed the Sixers to get right back into it. The Celtics went 5 for 18 from the floor in the third and sent the Sixers to the line nine times. Philadelphia attempted 36 free throws Friday night after shooting 63 in the first three games of the series combined.
A four-point lead at the end of the third quarter quickly evaporated as the Sixers took their first lead of the game. Usually the better closing team, the Celtics were out-closed by the Sixers down the stretch as Andre Iguodala caught fire from the perimeter. Lou Williams chipped in his first big game off the bench with 15 points.
– Reported by Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe (Blog)
The game was nearly 4 minutes old before the Sixers scored their first points. Their offensive possessions appeared CYO-like, though that may be more of a knock on CYO teams (and a tribute to the Boston defense). The one bright spot was the Sixers’ ability to get to the foul line, as they did 21 times in the first half. But that was negated by the fact that they were only able to make 62 percent of them (13).
At least in Wednesday’s 16-point blowout loss, the Sixers scored 33 points in the first quarter. Friday, they scored 31 points in the first half.
The Sixers, though, thrillingly provided the crowd with the excitement they were aching for in the third quarter when they started it with an 18-8 run to close the gap to just 54-49 after a Lou Williams three-pointer with 4:42 remaining in the third. Four straight points by the Celtics upped the lead back to nine, but another Sixers spurt cut it to 58-54 on a conventional three-pointer by Williams. The lead stayed at four at the end of the third at 63-59.
– Reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News