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McConnell helps 76ers hold off elimination against Boston

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The chants for ''TJ! TJ!'' grew louder each time T.J. McConnell darted through the lane for an easy basket or buried a 3 to build an insurmountable lead for the 76ers. He wore a sheepish look as teammates rubbed his head on the bench in appreciation, the big moment due on an undrafted guard who plugged a role in the early Process days and morphed into a surprise postseason savior.

McConnell turned an eye-popping start into the save of the season and Dario Saric scored 25 points to help Philadelphia stave off elimination in a 103-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 on Monday night.

''If I saw a lane, I took it. If I had an open shot, I would try and take it,'' McConnell said.

Easy enough.

Yet the Sixers still face daunting odds headed into Game 5 and trailing 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals: No NBA team has ever won a series down 3-0.

McConnell had a career-high 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in only his second start of the season and meshed well in the backcourt with Ben Simmons. The crowd chanted his initials each time he touched the ball in the fourth and he proved why he has been so valuable even as bigger stars have sliced his playing time.

He was just what coach Brett Brown needed in a must-win game.

''I can tell you the Philadelphia 76ers spirit is just fine,'' Brown said.

With NBA teams down 3-0 having lost all 129 series, the Sixers may need more than spirit to pull off this stunner.

Joel Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Simmons had 19 points and 13 boards.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 20 points and Marcus Morris had 17.

The Sixers spent the second half in control in what could be their last home game of the season.

Embiid was still in the mix in his mask, stirring it up with any Celtic within his wingspan. He chirped at Marcus Morris in the third and the Celtics forward flashed a ''3-0'' with his hands. McConnell buried a 3 for a 14-point lead that would soon make that combination obsolete.

The ''TJ!'' chants soon echoed throughout the Wells Fargo Center.

''It was a pretty special moment,'' McConnell said of the chants. ''I think we have the best fans in the NBA. They've been here through the dark times and they've certainly been here on our rise.''

So has McConnell.

Brown was desperate to spark the Sixers and benched slumping forward Robert Covington (0 for 14 combined in Games 1 and 3) for McConnell. McConnell had started 68 games combined over the last two seasons and served as an example of the type of player The Process was built on. He was an underdog, a hustler, a court general averaging 6.5 points that made him a reliable favorite for Brown. But Simmons' emergence put McConnell on the bench, and without complaint.

With a chance to shine, McConnell zipped inside for easy buckets, made the extra pass to keep the offense rolling and made the dive for loose balls.

''How do I help my stars be stars because at the end of the day that's what we need,'' Brown said. ''That's my job.''

He turned to McConnell, that's how.

The anticipation of elimination and a 6 p.m. EDT tip sharply cut into attendance and the game had more of an early-season feel until Embiid and Terry Rozier shook everyone up with pushing and shoving late in the first half. Embiid tried to strip the ball from Rozier after the whistle. Rozier tightened his grip and Embiid slapped at the ball again. The 6-foot-1 Rozier shoved the 7-2 Embiid in the chest with his right hand and the two quickly had to be separated.

''He tried to punch me twice. Too bad he's so short he couldn't get to my face,'' Embiid said.

Rozier and Embiid were hit with Ts. Then they each hit 3s.

Embiid buried one that had the crowd buzzing until Rozier came right back and hit his own.

The Celtics took a punch - but they can still finish it Wednesday at home.

''Finish the game. Get it done,'' Boston's Jaylen Brown said. ''Advance and do what we were supposed to do.''

TIP-INS

Celtics: G Shane Larkin left with a left shoulder injury in the first quarter. ... Markieff Morris of the Wizards was in the stands to support twin brother Marcus. The brothers are Philly natives.

Sixers: Covington still hit the bench early in the second quarter with three quick fouls. ... Missed 10 of 14 3s in the first half.

MAN DOWN

The Celtics could be even more of a threat had Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward not been lost this season to injury.

''There's not a coach in the world that wouldn't want everybody available,'' coach Brad Stevens said. ''I think that obviously we'd be better with those guys. They're very good players. Both unselfish players. But I really like this group and those guys are still a part of that.''

CONFETTI BENCHED

The Sixers scrapped their traditional confetti cannon celebration after it was prematurely shot at the end of regulation in a Game 3 overtime loss.

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1st Quarter

Time Team Play Score
12:00   Jumpball  
11:40   Al Horford missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:37   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
11:31   Ben Simmons missed fade-away jump shot  
11:28   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
11:18   Jayson Tatum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:15   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
11:01   Dario Saric missed floating jump shot  
10:58   Offensive rebound by Dario Saric  
10:45 +2 Joel Embiid made turnaround jump shot 0-2
10:18   Jayson Tatum missed floating jump shot  
10:16   Defensive rebound by Dario Saric  
10:05   Personal foul on Jayson Tatum  
9:59   Ben Simmons missed driving layup  
9:57   Offensive rebound by Dario Saric  
9:56   Dario Saric missed layup, blocked by Aron Baynes  
9:56   Team rebound  
9:42   Aron Baynes missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:39   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
9:34   Joel Embiid missed 3-pt. jump shot  
9:31   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
9:19 +3 Aron Baynes made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 3-2
9:00   Dario Saric missed reverse layup  
8:58   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
8:46   Terry Rozier missed jump shot  
8:44   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
8:28 +2 JJ Redick made jump shot 3-4
8:08   Aron Baynes missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:06   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
7:58   JJ Redick missed driving layup, blocked by Marcus Smart  
7:55   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
7:54   Shooting foul on Dario Saric  
7:54 +1 Jayson Tatum made 1st of 2 free throws 4-4
7:54 +1 Jayson Tatum made 2nd of 2 free throws 5-4
7:43   Shooting foul on Jayson Tatum  
7:43 +1 Dario Saric made 1st of 2 free throws 5-5
7:43 +1 Dario Saric made 2nd of 2 free throws 5-6
7:29   Marcus Smart missed jump shot  
7:25   Offensive rebound by Al Horford  
7:20   Lost ball turnover on Al Horford, stolen by Dario Saric  
7:14 +2 Ben Simmons made dunk, assist by T.J. McConnell 5-8
6:55 +2 Al Horford made alley-oop shot, assist by Marcus Smart 7-8
6:35 +3 Joel Embiid made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Ben Simmons 7-11
6:09   Jayson Tatum missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:07   Team rebound  
6:05   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:01   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
5:46   Ben Simmons missed turnaround jump shot  
5:43   Offensive rebound by Dario Saric  
5:40 +3 Marco Belinelli made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Dario Saric 7-14
5:22 +3 Jayson Tatum made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jaylen Brown 10-14
5:05   Marco Belinelli missed reverse layup  
5:04   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
5:00 +3 Jaylen Brown made 3-pt. jump shot 13-14
4:52   Personal foul on Jaylen Brown  
4:47   Offensive foul on Ben Simmons  
4:47   Offensive foul on Ben Simmons  
4:23   Marcus Morris missed jump shot  
4:20   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
4:14   Lost ball turnover on Ersan Ilyasova, stolen by Semi Ojeleye  
3:56   Al Horford missed fade-away jump shot  
3:51   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
3:44   Dario Saric missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:42   Defensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
3:36   Jaylen Brown missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:32   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
3:25   Ersan Ilyasova missed 3-pt. jump shot  
3:22   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
3:05 +2 Marcus Morris made layup, assist by Al Horford 15-14
3:05   Shooting foul on Ersan Ilyasova  
3:05 +1 Marcus Morris made free throw 16-14
2:58 +2 T.J. McConnell made jump shot, assist by Robert Covington 16-16
2:58   Shooting foul on Marcus Smart  
2:58   T.J. McConnell missed free throw  
2:56   Defensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
2:42   Marcus Smart missed driving layup  
2:40   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
2:31   Robert Covington missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:29   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
2:29   Personal foul on Robert Covington  
2:17   Out of bounds turnover on Al Horford  
1:58   Joel Embiid missed hook shot  
1:56   Defensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
1:53   Shooting foul on Marco Belinelli  
1:53 +1 Jaylen Brown made 1st of 2 free throws 17-16
1:53 +1 Jaylen Brown made 2nd of 2 free throws 18-16
1:38   Robert Covington missed floating jump shot  
1:36   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
1:36   Personal foul on Robert Covington  
1:36   Aron Baynes missed 1st of 2 free throws  
1:36   Team rebound  
1:36 +1 Aron Baynes made 2nd of 2 free throws 19-16
1:26 +2 JJ Redick made jump shot, assist by Joel Embiid 19-18
1:03   Marcus Morris missed turnaround jump shot  
1:01   Defensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
0:51   JJ Redick missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:48   Offensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
0:46 +3 JJ Redick made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Joel Embiid 19-21
0:37   Personal foul on T.J. McConnell  
0:37 +1 Terry Rozier made 1st of 2 free throws 20-21
0:37   Terry Rozier missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
0:35   Defensive rebound by Marco Belinelli  
0:28   JJ Redick missed 3-pt. jump shot  
0:25   Defensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
0:05 +2 Marcus Smart made floating jump shot 22-21
0:00   T.J. McConnell missed jump shot  
0:00   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
0:00   End of period  

2nd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:41   Joel Embiid missed jump shot  
11:38   Defensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
11:28   Marcus Morris missed turnaround jump shot  
11:25   Defensive rebound by JJ Redick  
11:18   JJ Redick missed jump shot  
11:15   Defensive rebound by Marcus Morris  
11:03   Marcus Smart missed reverse layup, blocked by Dario Saric  
11:00   Offensive rebound by Marcus Smart  
11:00   Shooting foul on Robert Covington  
11:00 +1 Aron Baynes made 1st of 2 free throws 23-21
11:00 +1 Aron Baynes made 2nd of 2 free throws 24-21
10:50   Kicked ball violation  
10:43   Personal foul on Marcus Morris  
10:29 +2 Dario Saric made hook shot 24-23
10:12 +3 Marcus Smart made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jayson Tatum 27-23
10:00   Marco Belinelli missed jump shot  
9:56   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
9:45 +2 Marcus Smart made jump shot 29-23
9:23 +2 Dario Saric made hook shot 29-25
9:08   Jayson Tatum missed finger-roll layup  
9:07   Offensive rebound by Jayson Tatum  
9:05 +2 Jayson Tatum made dunk 31-25
8:42 +2 T.J. McConnell made layup 31-27
8:17   Marcus Morris missed floating jump shot  
8:15   Defensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
8:10   JJ Redick missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:07   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
7:47   Marcus Smart missed floating jump shot  
7:44   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
7:43   Personal foul on Marcus Smart  
7:31   Personal foul on Jaylen Brown  
7:22   Ben Simmons missed hook shot  
7:21   Offensive rebound by Ersan Ilyasova  
7:19   Ersan Ilyasova missed dunk  
7:17   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
7:14 +2 Terry Rozier made jump shot 33-27
7:05   Ben Simmons missed floating jump shot  
7:02   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
7:01   Offensive foul on Jayson Tatum  
7:01   Offensive foul on Jayson Tatum  
7:01   Delay of game violation  
6:51   Marco Belinelli missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:48   Defensive rebound by Jaylen Brown  
6:40   Traveling violation turnover on Jaylen Brown  
6:27 +2 Marco Belinelli made finger-roll layup, assist by Dario Saric 33-29
6:11   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Morris, stolen by Marco Belinelli  
5:56   Personal foul on Semi Ojeleye  
5:41 +2 Ben Simmons made hook shot 33-31
5:20   Terry Rozier missed driving layup  
5:19   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
5:15   Personal foul on Semi Ojeleye  
5:15   Ersan Ilyasova missed 1st of 2 free throws  
5:15   Team rebound  
5:15 +1 Ersan Ilyasova made 2nd of 2 free throws 33-32
4:55 +2 Al Horford made fade-away jump shot 35-32
4:40   Ersan Ilyasova missed 3-pt. jump shot  
4:37   Defensive rebound by Terry Rozier  
4:30 +3 Marcus Morris made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Terry Rozier 38-32
4:21 +2 Dario Saric made turnaround jump shot, assist by Ben Simmons 38-34
4:21   Shooting foul on Marcus Morris  
4:21 +1 Dario Saric made free throw 38-35
4:00   Marcus Morris missed jump shot  
3:56   Offensive rebound by Al Horford  
3:56   Out of bounds turnover on Al Horford  
3:50   Personal foul on Marcus Morris  
3:50   JJ Redick missed 1st of 2 free throws  
3:50   Team rebound  
3:50   JJ Redick missed 2nd of 2 free throws  
3:47   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
3:28   Aron Baynes missed jump shot  
3:24   Defensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
3:17   T.J. McConnell missed driving layup  
3:12   Offensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
3:11 +2 T.J. McConnell made dunk 38-37
2:59   Aron Baynes missed 3-pt. jump shot  
2:56   Defensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
2:51   Personal foul on Aron Baynes  
2:51   Team rebound  
2:51   Joel Embiid missed 1st of 2 free throws  
2:51 +1 Joel Embiid made 2nd of 2 free throws 38-38
2:40   Lost ball turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by Ben Simmons  
2:40   Personal foul on Marcus Smart  
2:40 +1 Ben Simmons made 1st of 2 free throws 38-39
2:40 +1 Ben Simmons made 2nd of 2 free throws 38-40
2:27   Offensive foul on Terry Rozier  
2:27   Offensive foul on Terry Rozier  
2:27   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
2:27   Unsportsmanlike technical foul  
2:18 +3 Joel Embiid made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Ben Simmons 38-43
1:53 +3 Terry Rozier made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Jaylen Brown 41-43
1:40   Personal foul on Jaylen Brown  
1:40 +1 Marco Belinelli made 1st of 2 free throws 41-44
1:40 +1 Marco Belinelli made 2nd of 2 free throws 41-45
1:25   Jayson Tatum missed driving layup  
1:23   Defensive rebound by Ersan Ilyasova  
1:20   JJ Redick missed 3-pt. jump shot  
1:17   Team rebound  
1:04   Marco Belinelli missed jump shot  
1:00   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
0:48   Out of bounds turnover on Al Horford  
0:35   Joel Embiid missed jump shot, blocked by Al Horford  
0:31   Offensive rebound by Joel Embiid  
0:28   Joel Embiid missed jump shot  
0:26   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
0:17 +2 Terry Rozier made finger-roll layup 43-45
0:01 +2 Joel Embiid made dunk, assist by JJ Redick 43-47
0:00   End of period  

3rd Quarter

Time Team Play Score
11:46   Joel Embiid missed jump shot  
11:43   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
11:30   Bad pass turnover on Marcus Smart, stolen by JJ Redick  
11:25   Bad pass turnover on Ben Simmons, stolen by Al Horford  
11:06   Marcus Smart missed 3-pt. jump shot  
11:03   Defensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
10:55 +2 Ben Simmons made layup, assist by T.J. McConnell 43-49
10:37 +2 Jayson Tatum made finger-roll layup 45-49
10:15 +2 T.J. McConnell made jump shot, assist by Dario Saric 45-51
9:52   Lost ball turnover on Jayson Tatum, stolen by Ben Simmons  
9:45 +2 Dario Saric made jump shot, assist by T.J. McConnell 45-53
9:24 +2 Jayson Tatum made reverse layup 47-53
9:03   Ben Simmons missed layup, blocked by Al Horford  
9:00   Offensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
8:57 +2 Ben Simmons made dunk, assist by T.J. McConnell 47-55
8:36 +3 Aron Baynes made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by Al Horford 50-55
8:20   Dario Saric missed floating jump shot, blocked by Jayson Tatum  
8:18   Defensive rebound by Al Horford  
8:15   Terry Rozier missed 3-pt. jump shot  
8:13   Defensive rebound by T.J. McConnell  
8:08 +2 T.J. McConnell made driving layup 50-57
7:55   Personal foul on Ben Simmons  
7:55   Personal foul on Joel Embiid  
7:46 +2 Al Horford made hook shot 52-57
7:40   Personal foul on Aron Baynes  
7:28 +2 Ben Simmons made driving dunk, assist by Dario Saric 52-59
7:09 +2 Jayson Tatum made jump shot, assist by Marcus Smart 54-59
7:01 +3 Dario Saric made 3-pt. jump shot, assist by T.J. McConnell 54-62
6:40   Aron Baynes missed 3-pt. jump shot  
6:37   Defensive rebound by Ben Simmons  
6:29   Ben Simmons missed fade-away jump shot, blocked by Al Horford  
6:25   Defensive rebound by Aron Baynes  
6:21   Jaylen Brown missed floating jump shot  
6:19   Defensive rebound by Dario Saric  
5:58   Ben Simmons missed fade-away jump shot  
5:57   Team rebound