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76ers refuse to fade, force Game 7

PHILADELPHIA — Jrue Holiday scored 20 and Elton Brand had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the determined 76ers past the Celtics 82-75 on Wednesday, sending the Eastern Conference semifinals to Boston for Game 7.

The 76ers, who wrote "Huddle Up and Fight" on the locker room chalkboard, failed to put up sparkling numbers — they missed 8 of 9 3-pointers, shot 17-for-28 from the free-throw line and had 12 turnovers — but they were better in the key moments.

"That was a gutty win, to say the least," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "It wasn't a masterpiece. In the second half we took away a lot of those dunks and layups. … The one thing I wanted us to do was keep pushing."

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo could be playing their last game together Saturday if they can't find a way to hang on to the ball.

The Celtics can blame the loss on their 33 percent shooting, their 17 turnovers or their 3-for-14 3-point shooting. Pierce had 24 points, and Garnett had 20.

"We didn't have it," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "Fortunately they missed free throws. But we had a lot of empty possessions. We played random a lot."

BOSTON (75): Pierce 5-11 13-13 24, Bass 2-12 4-4 8, Garnett 9-20 2-2 20, Rondo 4-14 1-2 9, R.Allen 4-11 0-0 9, Pietrus 2-6 0-0 5, Stiemsma 0-1 0-0 0, Dooling 0-3 0-0 0, Hollins 0-0 0-2 0, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-78 20-23 75.

PHILADELPHIA (82): Iguodala 4-11 3-7 12, Brand 5-9 3-4 13, Hawes 4-6 1-2 9, Holiday 7-15 6-6 20, Turner 5-11 2-5 12, L.Williams 5-13 1-2 11, L.Allen 1-1 1-2 3, T.Young 1-3 0-0 2, Meeks 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-70 17-28 82.

Boston 19 17 20 19— 75

Philadelphia 22 11 27 22— 82

3-Point GoalsBoston 3-14 (Pierce 1-3, Pietrus 1-4, R.Allen 1-5, Rondo 0-1, Dooling 0-1), Philadelphia 1-9 (Iguodala 1-2, Hawes 0-1, Turner 0-1, Meeks 0-1, Holiday 0-2, L.Williams 0-2). Fouled OutR.Allen. ReboundsBoston 54 (Garnett 11), Phi. 50 (Brand 10). AssistsBoston 14 (Rondo 6), Phi. 22 (Holiday, L.Williams 6). Total FoulsBoston 25, Philadelphia 16. TechnicalsPhi defensive three second. A20,403.

Bird calls Pacers soft: Team president Larry Bird, after watching his Pacers suffer a franchise-worst 115-83 playoff loss against Miami on Tuesday, called out his players. "I can't believe my team went soft," Bird told the Indianapolis Star. "S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen."

Danny Granger, the team's leading scorer who suffered a sprained left ankle but hopes to play tonight, said: "I agree with his assessment. We did play soft. We got smacked around. We got beat up. We got bullied."

The Heat will be without co-captain Udonis Haslem, who was suspended by the NBA for one game because the former Gator committed a flagrant foul against Indiana's Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5. Haslem's foul came shortly after Hansbrough struck Miami's Dwyane Wade and opened a cut over his right eye. Hansbrough was not suspended, but the league upgraded his foul to a flagrant-2.

The NBA also said Miami reserve center Dexter Pittman will miss three games for his flagrant foul against Indiana backup guard Lance Stephenson in the final seconds.

Shaq as Magic GM? Shaquille O'Neal, who began his NBA career as Orlando's center (1992-96), may meet with Magic officials next week about the open general manager position, ESPN.com reported. The Magic, which fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith on Monday, would not comment. O'Neal, 40, has no front office experience and in the past has criticized star Dwight Howard, whom the Magic hopes to retain. Despite the firings, Howard still wants to be traded, the website SheridanHoops.com reported.

Postgame shooting: A judge ordered the release of a 19-year-old man arrested in connection with a shooting in Oklahoma City that left at least eight people wounded after Monday's playoff game. An order was signed to release Rodney Hill from custody, pending additional investigation into the shootings in the Bricktown entertainment district. Officers arrested a 17-year-old male late Tuesday in connection with the crime. Authorities said one person remained in critical condition and the others were in good condition. Thunder officials said they would no longer show the game on the videoboard outside the arena.

Around the league: League MVP LeBron James of the Heat was the top vote-getter for the NBA all-defensive squad and was joined by Howard, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, Clippers guard Chris Paul and Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on the first team. Defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler was relegated to the second team. That's because a media panel votes for defensive player of the year, and the all-defensive team is selected by the 30 head coaches, who voted for a first and second team by position and were not allowed to pick their players. … Pau Gasol met with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Mike Brown but left saying he did not get "clarification" on his future. … Lakers center Andrew Bynum said he might travel to Germany in September to undergo the same knee therapy Kobe Bryant had last offseason, ESPN.com reported. Bynum will have MRI exams soon and decide after getting the results. The procedure involves doctors drawing a patient's blood, spinning it to make a serum then injecting it into the knee.

76ers refuse to fade, force Game 7 05/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 1:36am]

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