BOSTON, December 24 – The Boston Celtics added another chapter to their storied history by setting a franchise record with their 19th consecutive victory on Tuesday.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo each scored 18 points in a 110-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Celtics, who surpassed the club mark set by the 1981-1982 team, now are 27-2, the best 29-game start in National Basketball Association history.
"We just want to keep playing, and we want to keep winning, and we want to try to keep getting better," coach Doc Rivers said.
Their next game is on Christmas Day in Los Angeles in an NBA Finals rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers, who hold the all-time record with 33 straight wins in 1972 – the longest winning streak in the history of pro sports.
The sellout crowd chanted "Beat L.A." in the closing moments as Boston prepared for a red-eye, cross-country flight to Los Angeles.
"If you don’t win the championship, all that goes out the window," Garnett said. "If you don’t win it at the end, then it’s pretty much meaningless. Our ultimate goal is to win this thing again and get better as we go."
Said Rivers, "Yeah, that (cheer) was nice. That was really cool, yeah. Well, we are now, because that’s our next opponent. They started and it was still a 14-point game with five minutes left.
"To me, I was like, ‘Wait two or three more minutes, please.’ And then, it was nice. Our crowd is a very smart basketball crowd, so they’re looking forward to it."
Louis Williams and Marreese Speights scored 16 apiece for the 76ers, who showed early on they were not going to be intimidated by the streak or the record. Miller scored 10 in the opening quarter as the visitors led by as many as four.
But trailing 22-18 Boston scored the next six points, taking the lead for good 23-22 when Garnett sank an 18-foot straight-away jumper with 2:02 remaining in the first.
As they have many times in their historic run, the Celtics took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Sixers 16-8 to open a 74-52 lead.
But unlike many teams, Philadelphia countered and drew to within 12 at 78-66 heading into the final quarter.
The Sixers could get no closer in the fourth quarter as the Celtics won their final contest before heading out on a four-game West Coast swing against the Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers.
Philadelphia lost its second straight after winning its first three under interim coach Tony DiLeo. Maurice Cheeks was Philadelphia’s coach when the 76ers were blown out by the Celtics, 102-78, on November 28 – win No. 7 in the streak.
Boston’s only two losses are to Indiana on November 1 – the third game of the season – and to Denver at home on November 14. The loss to the Nuggets was the last before the streak began at Milwaukee in overtime on November 15.