LAS VEGAS – Boston needed some of its lesser-known players to step up Tuesday night in the absence of Jaylen Brown and Abdel Nader. They did exactly that.
Jabari Bird came off the bench to tie Jayson Tatum for the team high in scoring with 15 points, Ante Zizic logged a big double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Celtics outlasted the 76ers 88-83 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Demetrius Jackson also contributed 14 and four assists during the victory.
“A lot of other guys stepped up as well that may not have played as much in Utah and in Vegas before this,” said Tatum. “For guys who do play a lot, you could see they were kind of fatigued right now. It’s great that our bench came in and helped us win this game.”
Nader missed his second straight game due to a strained left calf. Brown, meanwhile, played the first half but suffered a bruised right thigh late in the second quarter. He was held out of the contest during the second half.
Those injuries forced the Celtics to play much smaller than they had through the first week-plus of Summer League ball.
The smaller lineups, featuring multiple true guards on the floor at once, didn’t work at the onset. Boston’s nine-point halftime lead slowly disappeared during the third quarter, as Philadelphia turned the tables to pull ahead 66-59 entering the fourth.
Then things began to click for the C’s, and Jackson, along with contributions from Bird, Tatum and Zizic, took over to lead the Celtics to their third consecutive win.
Jackson scored all 14 of his points during the fourth quarter on 5-of-7 shooting. He accounted for nearly half of Boston’s 29 total points during the frame.
Meanwhile, Tatum scored five points during the final quarter, Bird added in three, and Zizic hauled in four rebounds.
The C’s responded quickly after falling behind 66-59. Landen Lucas capped an 11-3 run by slamming home a missed layup by Jackson. That basket pushed Boston back on top 70-69 and forced the 76ers to call for a timeout.
Philadelphia responded by taking a one-possession lead out of the timeout, and the game was tied at 77-77 with 3:14 left on the clock. Tatum and Jackson then scored four straight points to give the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish.
Boston is now 3-0 in Summer League play in Vegas and earned a bye heading into the league’s tournament stage. The C’s will be off Wednesday and return to the court Thursday. Their game time and opponent are to be determined.