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Celtics earn emotional win

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Feb 12, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots against the defense of Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Reuters/Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Gordon Hayward scored 26 points off the bench to lead the visiting Boston Celtics past the Philadelphia 76ers 112-109 on Tuesday in a game full of playoff atmosphere.

Al Horford scored 23 points while Jayson Tatum added 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak. All-Star guard Kyrie Irving sat out with an injured knee.

Joel Embiid had 23 points and 14 rebounds for his league-leading 47th double-double, and Jimmy Butler added 22 points and nine rebounds. Ben Simmons and JJ Redick scored 16 points each.

Trailing by three with 1.8 seconds left, Butler was unable to release a potential 3-pointer in time.

The Sixers had their two-game winning streak halted and lost their first game since acquiring Tobias Harris in a trade-deadline deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Celtics jumped out to a 28-18 lead before the Sixers closed the first quarter with a 5-0 run to get within five.

Boston used an 8-0 spurt late in the second to take a 52-44 lead. Embiid knocked down a jumper to get the Sixers within 52-46 at halftime.

Horford, who received a technical foul early in the half, led the Celtics with 13 points. Butler paced the Sixers with 10 on 4-of-6 shooting.

The Sixers came out very aggressive on the defensive end, and it translated into a 20-4 run and a 64-56 lead midway through the third.

Boston later responded with an 11-2 run capped by a 3-pointer from Hayward for a 67-66 advantage with 2:55 left in the third.

Horford hit two late 3-pointers before Butler came back and converted a driving layup at the buzzer. The Celtics led 77-74 after three quarters.

The Celtics made six of their first seven shots in the fourth quarter to go ahead 90-81.

But Embiid made a trey, and the Sixers sliced the lead to 92-89 with 7:01 remaining.

After the Sixers tied the game at 94, Tatum and Terry Rozier each connected on a 3-pointer for a 100-94 Celtics lead with 5:17 left.

Embiid converted a three-point play with 2:11 left, and the Sixers regained the lead at 103-102.

Marcus Smart threw down a vicious dunk with 23.9 seconds left for a 108-104 Boston advantage, attacking Embiid – who had five fouls at the time.

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