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No Iverson, Celtics Finally Win

With Philadelphia missing Allen Iverson, the Boston Celtics were finally able to end their five-game losing streak.

Antoine Walker scored 21 points and Greg Minor hit four free throws in the final 41 seconds as the Celtics beat the 76ers 90-84 Friday night.

Iverson, the NBA's leading scorer, and backcourt partner Eric Snow both missed the game with injuries. Iverson has a strained right thigh and Snow a sore left hamstring. Both are listed as day-to-day by the 76ers.

Boston used an aggressive press to force 20 turnovers as the Celtics also ended a nine-game road losing streak.

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  • "These are the games that make you want to coach," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "I knew their press would hurt us with our injuries, but we gave ourselves a chance to win, even late. It makes me proud of this team."

    The win was big lift for the Celtics, too.

    "We had yesterday off and just tried to get away from basketball and relax a little," said guard Dana Barros, who finished with 12 points. "We've been frustrated and our heads have not been where it should be, but hopefully tonight will help."

    Coach Rick Pitino called for the press as soon as he knew the Sixers would go with a backup backcourt.

    "We haven't pressed hardly at all because we're still not in shape," Pitino said. "But, when I saw no Iverson or Snow, I said `Guys, tonight's the night, we're doing it."'

    Larry Hughes led the Sixers with 21 points, Theo Ratliff added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Tyrone Hill had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

    The Celtics got 18 points from Ron Mercer and 12 from Vitaly Potapenko.

    Trailing by nine with 1:37 left, Philadelphia ran off seven straight points, with a follow by Hughes with 45 seconds left pulling the 76ers within two points.

    Minor hit two free throws with 41 seconds to go an two more following a Philadelphia turnover to seal the victory for Boston.

    After Boston opened its biggest lead, 78-69, Philadelphia scored five straight points to pull within four, but Barros hit a 3-point shot and Walker stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup to end that Philadelphia threat.

    In the third quarter, the Celtics press forced seven turnovers and sparked a 17-5 run, with Barros scoring seven points during the stretch. Boston capped that run by scoring 13 straight.

    "Dana Barros turned it around for us," Pitino said. "He hit some big shots and we fed off of his scoring."

    The Celtics continued to pressure in the fourth quarter. After Matt Geiger made a hook shot to start off the period and cut the Celtics lead to 62-61, Boston went on a 7-2 run to open a 69-63 lead with 8:44 to go. That lead reached nine after Walker hit back-to-back field goals.

    The 76ers had opened up a 10-point lead in the early stages of the second quarter, but Boston chipped away at that deficit, pulling within seven, 43-36, at halftime.

    Philadelphia struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just 19-of-33.

    The 76ers' guard tandem of Hughes and Aaron McKie combined for nine turnovers. Notes: Boston has won 11 of the last 14 games it has played in Philadelphia. ...The loss kept Brown one shy of the 900-win milestone.Brown is 670-543 in his 16 years in the NBA and 229-107 in seven years in the ABA. ... Iverson injured his right quad muscle during the 76ers game against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 19. Although he played all three games during Philadelphia's recent West Coast swing, the injury was aggravated and he was forced to miss his first game of the season. ... Snow, Philadelphia's starting point guard, injured his left hamstring against Vancouver on March 24. ...Hughes and McKie both started for the first time this season and both got career highs in minutes played (McKie-43, Hughes-42). ...Boston's Mercer had a season-high of five steals.

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