Butler, Embiid star as Sixers rattle Celtics
Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers smile after a game against the Boston Celtics on March 20, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

Butler, Embiid star as Sixers rattle Celtics

(Agence France-Presse) - March 21, 2019 - 12:50pm

LOS ANGELES – Jimmy Butler led a fourth quarter comeback as the Philadelphia 76ers overpowered the Boston Celtics, 118-115, in a stormy Eastern Conference duel on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time).

Butler scored 15 points in the final period as the Sixers overturned a nine-point deficit to seal their first win of the season against Boston while extending their winning streak to six games.

Butler, who was slow to settle in Philadelphia following his acrimonious move from the Minnesota Timberwolves in November, finished with 22 points including a decisive jump shot late in the fourth quarter.

Centre Joel Embiid also delivered a towering performance for the Sixers, finishing with 37 points, a career-high 22 rebounds and four assists.

Embiid was also at the center of the bruising encounter's flashpoint in the third quarter which led to Celtics star Marcus Smart being ejected.

Replays appeared to show Embiid obstruct Smart with an elbow, prompting a furious reaction from the Celtics guard. Smart shoved Embiid forcefully to the floor after their collision, triggering a melee.

Embiid refused to react, and officials wasted no time in tossing Smart from the contest.

Boston meanwhile were left to reflect on a frustrating evening which saw them fail to capitalize on a big early lead of 60-46 in the second quarter.

Kyrie Irving led the scoring with 36 points for the Celtics, who fell to 43-28 with the loss. The 76ers improved to 46-25 to keep a firm grip on third place in the Eastern Conference table.

'Unstoppable' Embiid
Embiid, meanwhile, said he had been determined to produce a big performance after being riled by suggestions that the Celtics defense had his measure.

"I've been hearing that these guys can guard me better than anyone else, so I just had to come out and show that I'm the most unstoppable player in the league," the seven-foot-tall Cameroonian said.

Embiid also had special praise for Butler's decisive fourth quarter contribution.

"He's a closer," Embiid said. "My job is to get him in the forecourt and let him do his thing. The last few games he's been fantastic."

Elsewhere Wednesday, Colin Sexton and the Cleveland Cavaliers took full advantage of Giannis Antetokounmpo's injury absence to score a 107-102 upset of the Eastern Conference leaders.

Cavs point guard Sexton led the scoring with 25 points while Jordan Clarkson had 23 off the bench to complete a remarkable reverse for the Bucks, who lead the standings with 53 wins and 19 defeats.

The Cavs meanwhile remain one place off the bottom of the East with the third worst record in the league, with 19 wins and 53 losses.

However a determined Cavaliers performance jolted the Bucks at the Quicken Loans Arena as the visitors struggled to adjust to the absence of Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic.

Milwaukee is also missing Pau Gasol, Sterling Brown and George Hill.

Khris Middleton led the scoring for the Bucks with 26 points and 12 rebounds while Eric Bledsoe added 24 with eight rebounds and eight assists.

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