BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics overcame an early nine-point deficit and cruised to a 112-95 victory over the young Philadelphia 76ers in the opener for both teams on Wednesday night.
The loss spoiled the NBA debut of center Jahlil Okafor, the third pick of the 2015 NBA draft. The Duke product sparkled early and late, scoring 10 points in his first 5 1/2 minutes and finishing a strong debut impressively.
He wound up with 26 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes. He was 10 of 16 from the floor but did have eight of his team's 24 turnovers.
Guard Isaiah Thomas keyed an onslaught by the Boston bench with 27 points and seven assists. Forward Amir Johnson, making his Celtics debut, also came off the bench with 15 points and seven rebounds, while fellow reserve (forward) Jared Sullinger adding 12 points and seven boards. Among the starters, guard Marcus Smart led the way with 13 points and five assists.
Forward David Lee, also making his Celtics debut, chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and five assists, while forward Jae Crowder scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Celtics, who are opening with three straight games at home.
The Celtics, who led by as many as 20, had 31 assists on 39 baskets.
The Sixers, with only nine players available because of injury, built a 26-17 lead in the first quarter, but the Celtics bridged the first and second quarters with a 21-2 run to take control of the game.
Forward Nerlens Noel, a local product playing in front of family and friends, had 14 points and 12 rebounds and guard Isaiah Canaan posted 18 points and seven assists for the Sixers.
Thomas and his team got off to a slow start, with the Sixers building their lead as Thomas entered the game and missed all four of his shots in the first quarter.
He did have two assists in his first six minutes and then really heated up in the second, scoring six straight points to key a 13-0 run.
Okafor and Noel dominated the early going but it soon became apparent the Sixers just aren't loaded with other options.
NOTES: G Nik Stauskas, acquired from the Kings during the offseason, made his debut with the Sixers after suffering a right tibia stress reaction on the third day of camp. "I know what I'm doing tonight, I just can't tell you guys," he said after the morning shootaround. "I feel like I could give 48 (minutes) today. I don't know how much they'll let me, though." He was the 10th man dressed for the injury-riddled 76ers. Coach Brett Brown said earlier that he was "going into tonight's game with nine and a half players." ... Boston rookie G R.J. Hunter missed his pro debut because of illness. Celtics F Kelly Olynyk missed the game serving a one-game suspension for his hit on Cleveland F Kevin Love during the playoffs last season. ... How young are the Sixers? Nineteen of 20 players in camp were born in the 1990s. F Carl Landry (1983) was the exception. ... The Celtics observed a pregame moment of silence for Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, who passed away Sunday.
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