BOSTON (AP) — Brandon Bass scored 18 of his postseason career-high 27 points in the third quarter on 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 on 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 3 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 — a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line — and Allen, back in the starting lineup because of an injury to Avery Bradley, had five points.
The Celtics acquired Bass in December in a trade with Orlando for Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and he worked his way into the starting lineup after the All-Star break. Although he solidified the power forward position after Garnett moved to center, he hadn’t done anything spectacular — until Monday.
Bass hadn’t scored more than 22 points in a game this season and he matched his regular-season career high of 27 on Monday night. His playoff high was 19 points, in 2008.
He left the game to a standing ovation with 2 minutes left and the Celtics leading by 18.
Boston tied it 57-all when Bass stole the ball from Thaddeus Young and got to the free throw line, making both foul shots.
After a Sixers miss, Rondo found Bass underneath for the dunk. Bass added another crowd-pleasing dunk before knocking loose a ball to start Rondo on a fast break he finished by finding Allen for the layup.