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Friday, March 23, 2012
Rapid Reaction: 76ers 99, Celtics 86

By Chris Forsberg

AP Photo/Matt SlocumAvery Bradley and the Celtics stumbled on the last stop of their marathon road trip in Philly.
PHILADELPHIA -- Rapid reaction after the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 99-86 Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center:

HOW THE GAME WAS LOST
Elton Brand erupted for 14 of his team-high 20 points as part of a dominant third quarter that carried the host 76ers to their second triumph over the Celtics this month. The 76ers spread out the wealth, putting six players in double figures, including 19 points from Lou Williams off the bench. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scored 20 points apiece for Boston, but the loss was secondary on a night when health again was thrust into the spotlight.

PIETRUS DEPARTS ON STRETCHER
Friday's game was delayed for 10 minutes when Celtics guard Mickael Pietrus endured a frightening head injury while crashing to the floor midway through the second quarter. Pietrus got tangled up with Philadelphia's Lou Williams while driving to the basket and hit the floor hard trying to force a shot attempt. He was attended to by medical personnel before being carted off on a stretcher and taken from the arena via ambulance. There was no immediate word on his condition. Hop HERE for more.

TURNING POINT
Coming out of halftime, an emotionally drained Celtics team lacked all the energy it had early on. Already playing without Ray Allen (ankle), the team lost both Pietrus and Avery Bradley (sprained left ankle) to injury. Boston owned a six-point cushion coming out of the intermission (it had been as high as 10), but were outscored 37-17 in the third quarter as Philadelphia ran away with the game. The Celtics were clinging to a 64-63 lead with under five minutes to play in the frame, but Philadelphia embarked on a 17-2 run to close out the quarter. Elton Brand did much of the damage and connected on 7-of-10 shots for 14 points overall during the third quarter.

BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME
Before his injury, Pietrus produced a ridiculous dunk early in the second quarter. Coming off a Garnett screen, Pietrus exploded into the paint and posterized Spencer Hawes with a one-handed jam that had Boston out front 36-30 at the time.

WHAT IT MEANS
It's hard to imagine what more these Celtics team can endure. Having already lost two players to heart ailments this season (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox) and recently losing Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist injury), the team endured the loss of Pietrus and the very frighteningly possibility that his injury is serious. All this a little more than a year after Marquis Daniels suffered a scary spine injury that ended his season (ironically, Daniels will be thrust into a larger role now because of the uncertainty around Pietrus). As for Friday's game, the 76ers secured the tie-breaker having won the first two of three meetings with the Celtics, putting them in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division.