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White, Tatum lead short-handed Celtics over 76ers in matchup of East leaders

Jayson Tatum Robert Covington Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers Jayson Tatum Robert Covington - The Canadian Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Derrick White scored 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Boston Celtics to a 117-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in a matchup of the early pacesetters in the Eastern Conference.

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 29 points and Jrue Holiday added 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Celtics (9-2), who were missing Jaylen Brown (non-COVID illness) and Kristaps Porzingis (right knee contusion).

“Everyone has to step it up a little bit,” said White, who was 7 of 12 from the floor. “Obviously, guys like J.B. and K.P., you can't do what they do. But you have to step it up just a little bit and I think that a lot of guys stepped up tonight.”

Philadelphia (8-3), playing its second game in a back-to-back and third game in four nights, got 20 points apiece from Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. That total was well below the season-scoring average for both. The Sixers played most of the night seemingly with tired legs and struggled to adjust defensively as the Celtics whipped the ball around.

“The physicality on the ball, we were not able to get into things as crisply as we would like to,” Sixers head coach Nick Nurse said. “It's not always easy coming off a back-to-back like that and it took us a minute to get into the game. I think that we gave up some easy offense and dug ourselves a hole.”

White took charge of the offense early in the fourth quarter, running toward the rim and mixing between penetration and outside shots that seemed to throw Philadelphia's defense.

“I didn't say it in those words, but he kind of knows that,” Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “With the matchups that we had, his efficiency was sky high. And when we can get him into those pick and rolls with his right hand, it's a good effective play for us. He's one of those guys who just shows up and makes the big play.”

Sam Hauser and Al Horford took the places of Brown and Porzingis in the starting lineup and had productive moments, with Horford - a long time starter who has adjusted to bench life- scoring 14 points and providing a big block of a driving layup by Maxey that ended with White hitting a backbreaking 3-pointer with 4:47 left that extended the Celtics' lead to seven points. Horford was 4 for 8 from beyond the 3-point line for a Celtics team that built its lead to 17 points at one point in the game.

“The only difference is the starting and the not starting,” Horford said. “Besides that, this is what I do for the most part. If I have to guard on the perimeter, guard on the post, create energy in different ways, shoot 3s, I'm trying to do whatever I can to help our group.”

Embiid, who was been on the injury report with left hip soreness for the second straight game, was a minus-25 in his 34 minutes on the floor. In the second half, Philadelphia's high-powered offense was held to just 49 points after scoring 36 points in the second quarter.


Celtics: Will face the Raptors on Friday in Toronto in an NBA In-Season Tournament game.

76ers: Travel to Atlanta for an NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Hawks.