Game Preview: Celtics at 76ers
The woeful Philadelphia 76ers had one of the NBA's best teams on the ropes before coming undone.
The Boston Celtics suffered a disappointing result of their own.
These Atlantic Division rivals try to get back on track at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.
Philadelphia (2-21) led by 18 with 7:39 to go in regulation but couldn't hold on in Saturday's 120-115 overtime loss to first-place Memphis, its third consecutive defeat. Robert Covington stayed hot with 24 points while Hollis Thompson matched a career high with 21, but the 76ers shot just 1 of 8 in the extra period.
"I want to stand here and tell everybody that it's a great learning experience, and there's some truth to that," coach Brett Brown said. "But the truth of the matter is, that's a gut-wrenching loss. That's a fact. I feel for those guys."
Michael Carter-Williams racked up 16 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his second triple-double in eight games. However, he committed five of his six turnovers in the fourth quarter and OT, giving him a whopping 45 over the last eight games.
"I was trying to do too much," Carter-Williams said. "We just need to play the full 48 minutes as a team, and keep playing strong and try to close out the game. It's a tough loss, it's pretty heartbreaking. ... But we have another one Monday and we just have to be ready and prepared for Boston."
The Celtics (7-14) have followed a three-game winning streak with three consecutive defeats after falling 101-95 to New York on Friday. Jeff Green led all scorers with 28 points, but Boston allowed the Knicks to shoot 49.4 percent in snapping their 10-game skid.
"You have to give them credit, but at the same time it stings us just because we know it's one of those games we know we should have had," Tyler Zeller said after scoring 19. "We just have to go out and play better."
Jared Sullinger was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting, and Rajon Rondo finished with only two points. Sullinger is averaging 3.3 points - way off his season mark of 14.1 - on 19.0 percent shooting over the last three games.
Coach Brad Stevens said he wasn't concerned about his team's motivation against a struggling team.
"We're not good enough to do that," he said. "It's not who you're playing."
The Celtics pulled out a 101-90 road victory over the then-winless 76ers on Nov. 19 behind a combined 45 points from Sullinger and Brandon Bass. Boston has averaged 108.0 points in winning three of four in Philadelphia.
Covington scored six points against Boston last month in his second game since signing with the 76ers on Nov. 15, but he's been much more involved of late. The second-year forward, who's made back-to-back starts, is averaging 19.3 points and over 31 minutes during the last six games.
The 76ers are 0-12 at home for the second-worst start in NBA history behind the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks, who opened 0-19 on their own court. Philadelphia is averaging an NBA-low 91.4 points.
Philadelphia's K.J. McDaniels is uncertain to be available after sitting out Saturday with a sprained ankle. Fellow rookie Marcus Smart could be out for Boston after exiting Friday's loss with a strained left Achilles, and guard Avery Bradley's status remains unclear due to an illness.