BOSTON — Brandon Bass scored 18 of his postseason career-high 27 points in the third quarter Monday night as the Boston Celtics pulled away from the Philadelphia 76ers to win 101-85 and take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Kevin Garnett added 20 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who can advance to the East finals with a victory in Philadelphia in Game 6 on Wednesday. The Sixers would need a win there to force the series back to Boston for a decisive seventh game Saturday.
Elton Brand scored 19 and Evan Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which led by six points early in the third quarter before Boston scored 14 of the next 16 points.
Bass scored eight of them, including back-to-back dunks followed by a steal that set up Ray Allen’s fast-break layup to give the Celtics a 63-57 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.
Boston closed out the third with a 10-2 run over the final three minutes and outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the period. The Celtics also scored 16 of the first 22 points in the fourth quarter –seven from Rondo – to put away the game.
Paul Pierce had 16 points and Allen had five points.
MAGIC: For months, Orlando has been trudging through the aftermath of a preseason trade request by Dwight Howard that sapped the life out of the franchise as internal team issues quickly affected the product on the floor.
Now after what has been one of the most tumultuous seasons in its history, the team made the first in what promises to be a huge off-season shake-up.
The Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy on Monday and agreed to part ways with general manager Otis Smith, severing ties with two of the architects of one of the most successful runs in franchise history.
Smith and Van Gundy’s relationship with Howard was the centerpiece of the drama the team faced all season, and after the second consecutive first-round playoff exit, CEO Alex Martins said, the shift was warranted.
“It’s time for a new leadership and a new approach,” Martins said at a news conference to discuss the moves. “We simply came to the decision that we were not on the right track.”
Martins wouldn’t go into many specifics about what he is looking for in replacements, saying only that he and ownership want to fill the general manager post by June’s NBA Draft.