Jaylen Brown scores 32, leads Celtics over 76ers
BOSTON — When he didn’t make the All-Star Game, Jaylen Brown decided he’ll use the break to rest up for what he hopes will be a long postseason run.
“Ain’t no reason to cry over spilled milk,” he said Saturday night after scoring 32 points in a 116-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. “Playoffs is on my mind. That’s the stage you want to be on. I think some people have got it backwards.”
Brown added nine rebounds, and Jayson Tatum — who was voted as a reserve in the All-Star Game in Chicago on Feb. 16 — scored nine of his 25 points in a 99-second span that gave Boston the lead for good. Playing without injured point guard Kemba Walker, the Celtics won for the sixth time in seven games and avoided a season sweep by the 76ers.
“I haven’t played as well against Philly as I would have liked the first three times,” said Brown, who scored 20 points total in the three previous games against the 76ers this season. “So tonight I wanted to make sure I left my imprint on the game.”
In his fourth NBA season, Brown is averaging 20.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists — all career highs. But he was left off the list of East All-Stars when the reserves were announced on Thursday. Walker was selected as a starter, and Tatum will come off the bench.
“It’s more important to be playing like an All-Star than to be named one,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “And nobody exemplifies that better.”
Ben Simmons scored 23 and ex-Celtic Al Horford had nine points and nine rebounds for the Sixers, who lost for the third time in five games. Joel Embiid scored 11, making just 1 of 11 shots and missing all four of the 3-pointers he attempted.
“He’s not going to have that kind of night very often,” Stevens said. “He’s an unreal player, and obviously we have the utmost respect for him. … Probably more ‘one of those nights’ for him than anything we did.”
Philadelphia missed its first seven 3-point attempts and made just six of its first 24 shots overall. In all, the Sixers shot 36.9% from the field.
“They rolled out that athletic style, that physical style and Joel struggled tonight,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “Combined with shooting 7 for 33 from the 3-point line, it’s going to make for a long night offensively.”
It was 7-6 with 9 minutes left in the first quarter when the Celtics scored 10 straight points — including nine in a row by Tatum. After Tobias Harris made a short jumper to halt the run, Tatum answered with a dunk over Horford that electrified the crowd. Tatum then stole the ball from Harris and fed Marcus Smart for a 3-pointer that gave Boston a 22-8 lead, its biggest of the quarter.
The Sixers cut it to 59-51 at the half, but then came out cold and failed to make a basket in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. The 12-1 Boston run made it 71-53 and Philadelphia never got closer than 13.
Sixers: Simmons and Embiid are the first Philadelphia teammates to make the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons since Charles Barkley and Maurice Cheeks in 1987 and ’88. … On Feb. 1, 1992, the 76ers beat Boston 126-110 behind Barkley’s 38 points and 11 rebounds. … Philly fell 9-17 on the road. It is 22-2 at home.
Celtics: Fans began shouting for 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall starting in the third quarter. He entered to a standing ovation with 2:32 to play and made one basket. … Gordon Hayward was 1 for 11 from the floor for Boston, and Brown was 1 for 10 from 3-point range. … Brad Wanamaker scored a season-high 15 points.
Walker missed the game with left knee soreness, joining center Enes Kanter (bruised hip) in absentia. But the Celtics had Tatum back on unrestricted minutes; he missed three games with a sore right groin and then returned on Thursday night to play 24 minutes against Golden State.
“Kemba is a short-term thing. We hope to get him back in the very near future. And Kanter is short-term,” Stevens said. “We’ll have time to be the best version of ourselves if we can get everyone back and healthy.”
Sixers: At Miami on Monday.
Celtics: At Atlanta on Monday.
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