Thomas scores 33, Celtics hold off late push by 76ers
It was the 40th straight 20-point game for Thomas, tying the team record set by John Havlicek during the 1971-72 season. Marcus Smart added 21 points and eight steals for the Celtics.
Boston has won four in a row and 11 of 12. Philadelphia's loss ended its three-game winning streak.
The Celtics won despite committing a season-high 24 turnovers, though they needed a late run to preserve the victory.
Dario Saric led the 76ers with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Covington added 18 points but left late in the fourth quarter after crashing into the Boston bench while diving for a loose ball.
Boston won the first two games of the season series by a combined five points. Wednesday's meeting was nearly as tight, with 10 ties and 11 lead changes.
The Celtics were a little erratic on offense to begin the game, turning the ball over five times in less than four minutes and 12 times in all during the first half.
Philadelphia took advantage, scoring 21 points off Boston turnovers in the opening 24 minutes.
It was tied 61-all at halftime, but Boston used 12-2 run at the start of the third quarter to create some breathing room. Philadelphia didn't go away, and took its first lead of the second half on Nerlens Noel's dunk with just under eight minutes to play.
Then it was Thomas time.
After struggling in the second and third quarters, he scoring nine straight Celtics points to put them back in front 101-99 with 5:42 left.
Noel tied it with a pair of free throws following a flagrant foul on Al Horford. But then Boston surged again, scoring seven straight as part of a 13-2 run.
76ers: Gerald Henderson got ejected with 51.8 seconds left after receiving a pair of technicals for arguing a foul call. ... C Joel Embiid missed his 10th straight game with a bruised left knee. He will make the trip to New Orleans for All-Star weekend, but will not participate in the Skills Challenge or Rising Stars game. ... Philadelphia center Jahlil Okafor was back in a Sixers uniform after beginning the week expecting to be headed to a new team. He was held out of the 76ers' last two games as trade talk intensified, but rejoined the club in Boston. Okafor played 17 minutes, finishing with four points and four rebounds.
Celtics: Thomas has only one game all season in which he failed to reach 20 points. He scored 18 in a 104-88 loss to Golden State on Nov. 18. ... Gerald Green played just six minutes before leaving with a bruised left heel. ... Boston played without G Avery Bradley (sore right Achilles) and rookie forward Jaylen Brown (right hip strain). Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley and Brown will also miss Thursday night's game in Chicago with the hope of practicing when the team returns from the All-Star break.
76ers: Return to action next Friday at home against Washington.
Celtics: Head to Chicago for their final game before the break on Thursday.
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