BOSTON, December 23 – Setting aside injuries and cold shooting, the Boston Celtics won their 14th NBA game in a row on Wednesday, holding off Philadelphia 84-80 thanks in part to 22 points from Ray Allen.The Celtics improved to 23-4, the best mark in the Eastern Conference and second only to San Antonio’s 25-3, as they chase the club’s all-time record of 19 wins in a row, set by the 2007-08 team that went on to win an NBA title.
Boston has triumphed despite missing guard Rajon Rondo for six of the 14 games, reserve Delonte West missing the past 12 games, center Shaquille O’Neal for four games and big man Kendrick Perkins for the entire season.
"We have won games in the 100s. We’ve won games in the 80s. And we’re just finding ways to grind it out cause we don’t have the healthy bodies," said Paul Pierce, who scored 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
"You don’t know who’s going to be in there night-in and night-out."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers marvels at how his team has adjusted to injuries, especially losing Rondo, Boston’s top assist distributor before being sidelined.
"Usually when you’re on a winning streak, everybody is healthy, everybody is playing well and you’re rolling," Rivers said. "You could make the case it is the opposite with us."
O’Neal scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds but missed two free throws with 62 seconds to play and the 76ers still within two points.
But Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala committed a turnover and had a shot blocked by Kevin Garnett, setting the stage for two Allen free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining to seal the 76ers’ fate.
Elton Brand scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Jrue Holiday added 15 for the 76ers, who were routed by 45 points a night earlier by Chicago.
"I couldn’t be more proud of them," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "For them to come out and play the Celtics like they did, they showed who they are."
The Celtics, who last lost on November 21, have matched the fifth-longest victory streak in club history and their third-best in the past 46 years.
"We were prepared for a dogfight," Garnett said. "We don’t like (dogfights) but hey, we will suit up for them either way."