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Thomas out again as Celtics face 76ers

The Boston Celtics will again try to hold the fort without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

Thomas, the league's second-leading scorer at 29.2 points per game, missed Friday's 98-95 victory in Brooklyn with a bone bruise on his right knee, and will again sit out against the Sixers.
Jae Crowder scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to lift Boston (44-25), the Eastern Conference's second-best team, over the Nets. Avery Bradley added 16 points and Al Horford contributed 14.

Without Thomas there were, Crowder told the Boston Globe, "A lot more shot opportunities -- for real, seriously. A lot of opportunities through our offense.

"We run a lot of stuff for him, so a lot of guys were getting a lot of looks that they probably weren't used to getting, so that was probably the biggest adjustment."

Crowder also collected 12 rebounds, and Horford had eight. Marcus Smart started in Thomas' place and chipped in 12 points and five assists.

"I mean, obviously Isaiah does so much for us offensively and (Friday) we had to find new ways," Horford told the Boston Globe. "I felt like Jae Crowder answered the call and different guys -- Gerald Green, Avery Bradley -- stepped up at different times and we got it done by committee."

In the end, however, Crawford emerged to lead the Celtics to their third straight victory.

"It's time to win the game," Crawford told the Globe. "I remember when they went on a run and hit a couple of threes in a row, we came together and said, 'It's time to win now, it's time to make winning plays and we got to do it together.'

"And from that point on we had control of the game."

The Sixers (25-43) battered the Dallas Mavericks, 116-74, on Friday night, their most lopsided victory in nine years.

Second-year forward Justin Anderson matched his career high of 19 points in his first game against his former team, spoiling the homecoming of ex-Sixer Nerlens Noel.

"It meant a lot, just because this is the team that drafted me and the team I learned all my NBA stuff from," said Anderson, who was part of the package Philadelphia received for Noel.

Anderson went 7-of-11 from the floor while matching his career high for the third time in 11 games with the Sixers.

"Anderson played with the attitude we needed tonight," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who added that he didn't really want to see him go.

"When I found out I was coming here, I looked at the schedule, knew we were going to play them and I've been looking forward ever since," Anderson said.

Robert Covington added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Sixers, and Richaun Holmes scored 17.

In all seven players cracked double figures for the Sixers, who shot 51.2 percent from the floor and limited the Mavs to 34.5-percent shooting.

Philadelphia remains without center Tiago Splitter, acquired in a Feb. 22 trade from Atlanta. He has yet to play this season after undergoing hip surgery last February.

Splitter also has been bothered by calf injuries, but the 76ers hope to have him by the end of the month.

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