BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 26 points with a career-high 16 rebounds on Wednesday night, shaking off a hard fourth-quarter fall to lead to lead the Boston Celtics to an 88-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tatum scored 11 points in the fourth, and Robert Williams III blocked Georges Niang’s shot at the buzzer to give the Celtics the victory in their first game this season against their longtime Eastern Conference rivals and former coach Doc Rivers.
Joel Embiid had 18 rebounds for Philadelphia, adding 13 points on 3-for-17 shooting. Seth Curry had 17 points and Shake Milton came off the bench to score 16.
Boston took an 88-84 lead with 38 seconds left when Dennis Schröder drove to the basket. Danny Green answered with a 31-footer from the top of the key to cut the lead to one point.
Schröder again drove, but this time missed everything, and the Sixers got the rebound with 6.1 seconds to play. The ball came in to Tobias Harris, who found Niang in the left corner but Williams got a piece of the shot and it fell far short of the rim.
Tatum was raked across the shoulder by Matisse Tybulle going to the basket with 4:18 left — a common foul — but one that sent the Celtics star slamming to the floor on his arm. After less than a minute, he was up and ready to shoot the free throws, waving off the training staff.
He made both foul shots, giving Boston an 80-76 lead.
THAT’S JUST SOME PEOPLE TALKIN’
Enes Kanter Freedom played his first game since becoming a U.S. citizen and adding a new surname to celebrate. The Celtics center received a cheer when he checked in in the first quarter and was introduced as “Enes Freedom.”
His jersey also bore his new last name, and he was identified that way in the lineup and box score. A native of Turkey, Freedom has been outspoken in his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other governments he deems oppressive.
Freedom played 17 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds.
NOTHING BUT NET
There was a problem that required the net on the basket at the Celtics’ end of the court to be replaced at halftime. The start of the third quarter was delayed approximately five minutes. The net was replaced again with 2:22 left in the third, causing another delay.
Josh Richardson went to the locker room in the third quarter with a towel over his left eye. He returned early in the fourth with a bandage over the eye after receiving four stitches. ... Brown went to the locker room early in the fourth and returned a few minutes later.
Sixers: At Atlanta on Friday.
Celtics: Visit Utah on Friday night.
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Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press