Where: The O2 Arena, London
LONDON – On the verge of being blown out, the Boston Celtics instead staged one of their more impressive comebacks against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in London. Outscoring Philadelphia 66-46 in the second half, Boston overcame a 22-point second quarter deficit and claimed a 114-103 victory at O2 Arena.
“We came out a little bit slow, but we wanted to pick it up in the second half, and (when) we got our feet under us we started playing ball,” Boston’s Jaylen Brown told NBC Sports Boston after scoring a team-high 21 points.
Brown led five players in double figures for the Celtics, with guard Kyrie Irving adding 20 to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Off the bench, Marcus Morris scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jayson Tatum chipped in 16 points, while Al Horford nearly collected a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, eight boards and seven assists. The result enabled Boston to stretch their record to 34-10, which leads the Eastern Conference.
J.J. Redick scored a game-high 22 points for Philadelphia, while rookie Ben Simmons hit for 16. Joel Embiid contributed a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Dario Saric netted 12 points. In a reserve role, T.J. McConnell tallied 12 points.
The final score ended up being a bit flattering to the 76ers, who trailed by as many as 18 points in the final two minutes before scoring the game’s last seven points.
Philadelphia started fast, scoring the first four points and bumping the lead as high as seven on five occasions before establishing a 28-23 lead after one quarter.
The 76ers ripped off a 21-4 run in the first 5:04 of the second quarter, upping their lead to 49-27 when Simmons sank a 17-foot fadeaway jumper from the right baseline. But Boston worked its way back into the game with a 21-8 run to end the half, closing within 57-48 at the half on a Brown dunk.
The Celtics carried that momentum over to the third quarter, taking their first lead of the night halfway through the period when Daniel Theis dunked off a Horford pass with six minutes to go. Horford capped their 37-22 domination of the quarter when he drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 37 seconds left to give them an 85-79 edge going to the final 12 minutes.
NOTES: The NBA has staged regular season games in Japan, Mexico and Britain. … The league first conducted its NBA London Games in 1993 when the Orlando Magic with Shaquille O’Neal played the Atlanta Hawks with Dominique Wilkins at tiny Wembley Arena. … The NBA also conducted the 1995 McDonald’s Championship in London at the Docklands Arena. … Injured Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward is now “brace free” after suffering a season-ending injury on opening night when he dislocated his ankle.