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Embiid-less Sixers rally to defeat Celtics

Philadelphia’s Josh Richardson finished with 29 points and seven assists in 34 minutes of playing time as the 76ers beat the Boston Celtics 109-98 © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Maddie Meyer

LOS ANGELES, United States, Jan 10Josh Richardson scored 29 points and Al Horford stepped in to fill an offensive void as the Philadelphia 76ers shook off the absence of Joel Embiid to beat the Boston Celtics 109-98 on Thursday.

Ben Simmons tallied 19 points and Horford chipped in with 17 for the Sixers, who have won all three games this season over Boston and improved to 18-2 at home this NBA season.

“With Joel out that is a big part of our team, so we had to find another way to win,” said Horford. “We have to hold the fort down til he gets back.”

All-star centre Embiid will undergo surgery on Friday for a torn ligament in his left ring finger and the club said he would be reevaluated in one to two weeks.

Embiid suffered the injury during Monday’s 120-113 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Embiid left in the first quarter but eventually returned after having two fingers taped together.

Kemba Walker scored a team-high 26 points, Marcus Smart added 24 and Jayson Tatum had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost three in a row for the first time this season.

It was another case of the Celtics giving up a lead and being unable to bounce back. They were coming off a 129-114 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday.

Despite the loss, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was trying to find some positives to take from the game.

“I thought there were a lot more examples of who we want to be tonight,” he said.

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Philadelphia pushed ahead 94-87 with just over six minutes to go in the fourth when Horford completed a three-point play in front of the crowd of 20,800 at the Wells Fargo Center arena.

Simmons missed a dunk on the Sixers’ next possession, and Walker came back with a three-point play.

Gordon Hayward then scored on the next possession, and the Celtics got within 94-92 with 5:15 remaining.

Richardson made two free throws for a 101-94 Philadelphia lead with 3:08 left.

The 76ers got the ball again and Simmons drained a right-handed hook shot for a substantial nine-point lead.

“It was an important win because we have been struggling,” Horford said. “The Celtics have been doing great. It is good to get a quality win.”

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