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Marcus Hayes: Sixers' ugly win: Roll over, Herb Magee

BOSTON - Doug Collins, basketball professor, loves to wax educational when his teams play poorly. So, what's the lesson this time?

The 76ers shot barely 40 percent from the field in Game 2, but they also shut down the Celtics' offense. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
The 76ers shot barely 40 percent from the field in Game 2, but they also shut down the Celtics' offense. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

BOSTON - Doug Collins, basketball professor, loves to wax educational when his teams play poorly.

So, what's the lesson this time?

KG is old?

Herb Magee lives?

Did the Sixers learn they can coast through the first few minutes, dig a 9-0 hole and still have a chance? That they can blow a second double-digit late lead and still win? That they have 5 seconds - not 6, not 4, but 5 - to inbound the ball?

Maybe they learned that any game can be theirs. Maybe they learned that the Celtics cannot defend their guards.

Maybe they learned nothing.

Jrue Holiday sank a late three-pointer, Evan Turner converted a late drive and two free throws, Lou Williams drained two makeup-call free throws and Jodie Meeks iced it with 2.2 ticks remaining as the Sixers evened the series, 1-1, Monday night.

Maybe they learned this:

They can win any type of game. Especially the ugly ones.

After running to a terrifying 3-18 mark during the season in games decided by seven points or fewer, they now are 6-1.

Win No. 6, 82-81, was beyond ugly. It was barely basketball.

It was so awful that TNT analyst/coroner Charles Barkley quipped at halftime that Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee, the Philadelphia University legend, was rolling over in his grave watching basketball butchery in Boston.

Magee, of course, is alive. Asked after the game if he heard Barkley's comment, Magee replied, "Yes, I did.

"I died laughing."

Figure of speech.

What Barkley meant was, that sort of basketball could send the Shot Doctor to an early grave.

Magee did not disagree. Magee, who, like Kevin Garnett, is 71, admitted that he dozed off and missed some of the horridness.

It was as if officials subtracted points for dumb play.

If those two teams constituted the whole league, Lavoy Allen would have been MVP, if only for his bank-shot 22-footer in the fourth quarter.

"Designed play," Elton Brand said.

Designed to go off the backboard?

"Did I call it?" Allen said. "I think I did."

He should have shot more.

The Sixers missed two layups in the first four possessions. That's not fatigue. That's focus.

The Sixers missed six of their first 12 free throws.

Andre Shaq-o-dala missed five of his first six.

And they still led by 10 near the end of the third quarter.

Holiday took the inbounds pass with just over 2 seconds left in the first half . . . and dribbled out the clock.

The Celtics shot 33.9 percent in the first three quarters. Less than 6 percent better than the Sixers.

Spencer Hawes saved a ball on the Celtics' end, which set up Mickael Pietrus for the three that cut the lead to 59-56 in the fourth.

A crazy switch put Garnett, whose hips are about to go, on Jrue Holiday, the Sixers' best penetrator. So, Holiday passed to Lou Williams for an off-balance, playground heave.

The Celtics, who fouled Iguodala approximately 14 times in just two fourth-quarter possessions, gamely fought back. Literally, fought back.

Almost none of those fouls was called.

Red Auerbach was rolling over in his grave . . . with reminiscent glee. That's Garden basketball, where the Celtics' homecourt advantage is exceeded only by the lions' over the Christians.

Having endured that will serve the Sixers well in Game 5 next Monday.

"A game like this is like 10 regular-season games' [worth] of experience," said Collins, a former Sixers player, with Celtics scars to prove it. "Against the Celtics. In the Garden . . . I'm so proud."

The officiating - er, the lack thereof - had less to do with the Celtics' comeback than bad Sixers basketball. But it had something to do with it.

"In the playoffs, the game gets rougher," said Collins, graciously understanding in victory. "If you want to complain, you might as well go sit down."

Then there was the classy moment late when Garnett dunked on Turner, then hung on the rim for several seconds, his crotch in Turner's face.

Old guys get away with murder.

Garnett isn't really 71. He actually turns 36 on Saturday. Monday night, he played like a septuagenarian: just 15 points in 34 minutes.

Garnett scored a total of 57 points in the Celtics' first-round finale and Game 1 on Saturday, his highest two-game output as a Celtic. Garnett entered Monday's game averaging 37.9 minutes per game this postseason, the most in 3 years.

Against Allen, injured Elton Brand and willowy Spencer Hawes, Garnett disappeared for most of the game. His 15 points included a meaningless, last-second three-pointer. Besides that shot, he was 6-for-11, 4-for-9 after the first 2:48.

"We tried to get a little closer to KG on those jumpers," Brand said.

"Tried to push him off the block," Allen said.

"Put some strength on him," Collins said.

And they hid his walker.

After Game 6 against the Hawks, Garnett seethed at the assertion that he's getting old - a silly reason to seethe.

Only one active player has played more minutes or games than Garnett, and that's Jason Kidd. Monday night, like Magee, Kidd was somewhere napping.

Garnett got mad when he was called old.

He got downright livid when, with 10 seconds left, he was called for his second moving screen of the quarter, his third of the game.

Correction: He was whistled for the foul.

He actually set about a dozen or so moving screens during the game, which put him at about 10,000 for his Celtics career, about 10 percent of them perpetrated against the Sixers. Almost none of them is called, perhaps in deference to his senior status.

"It's worth every [uncalled] one," said Turner, who bore the brunt of Garnett's bony backside. "I'm surprised they called it."

So was Garnett. He was mad enough to beat them with his cane.

Garnett needed a nap. Well, he's coming to town.

Maybe he can visit ol' Herb Magee.