PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Johnson stepped back, heaved up a desperation 3-pointer and watched it fall in to tie the game with 0.9 seconds on the clock.
Or so he thought.
As it turned out, Johnson stepped back a little too far, and the shot was discounted immediately when officials ruled he stepped out of bounds. The 76ers were awarded possession, and James Anderson made a pair of free throws a half-second later to seal Philadelphia's 113-108 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
"That's that," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "His foot was out of bounds."
Philadelphia led by 19 points in the second quarter, but Johnson hit 3-pointers on consecutive Boston possessions to trim the deficit to two as part of a 14-3 run to close the third quarter.
After an 11-4 Philadelphia run to open the fourth quarter, Boston flirted with a comeback and got within two points several times down the stretch but could never pull even. The Sixers aided the Celtics' near comeback with dismal foul shooting -- they were 24 for 38 from the line.
"We missed free throws, Rondo was Rondo, Johnson made some shots," Brown said. "But I'm pleased we were able to find a way to win."
"We definitely got a lot to play for, and it showed tonight. We could've laid down when we were down," said Brandon Bass, who finished nine points and eight rebounds for Boston. "We kept fighting and made it a game."
Philadelphia took three of four games from Boston in winning the season series for the first time since 2006-07.
After missing the past two games with a strained left shin, Rondo returned to action and dominated the game's first five minutes before Thaddeus Young's elbow to the head forced him to briefly leave the game.
Rondo had five assists in the first 5:08 as Boston took an early 16-7 lead.
But the minute the Celtics' floor general left the game, the Sixers took over and outscored the Celtics 60-34 the rest of the half.
Casper Ware made a long 3-pointer to cap a 22-9 run that put Philadelphia up by four late in the first quarter. Rondo, who returned late in the first quarter, followed suit by driving for a layup and drawing a foul. He then rebounded his own miss at the line and put the ball right back up for another two to erase the lead in 10 seconds.
The 76ers turned it on again in the second quarter, this time going on a 28-8 run to build a 19-point lead highlighted by Young's steal and ensuing cross-court pass to Wroten for an uncontested slam dunk.
Green led all players at the half with 14 points, but Carter-Williams paced Philadelphia with 12 points and eight assists as the 76ers took a 67-50 lead at the break.
The Sixers scored 46 of 67 first-half points in the paint to the Celtics' 18. ... The Celtics are the only team the 76ers have beaten more than once this season. The Sixers could make it two with a win in Miami in their season finale on Wednesday. ... Boston concludes its season Wednesday at home vs. Washington. ... Philadelphia finished 10-31 at home.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 14: Phil Pressey #26 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Philadelphia...
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
MVP: Michael Carter-Williams. The rookie of the year favorite strengthened his case for the award Monday night by filling up the box score on both ends of the floor. Carter-Williams posted 21 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks in the win.
X factor: Bench scoring. Tony Wroten had 20 points off the pine for Philadelphia as the Sixers' second unit outplayed Boston's short-handed bench all night, outscoring the group 54-13 overall.
That was ... surprising. It's a rare that a team with just 18 victories all season wins a season series, but that's exactly what happened Monday night. The win gave Philadelphia the series over Boston by a 3-1 edge.