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76ers land knockout punch on Bulls; Iguodala hits late free throws

PHILADELPHIA -- Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner hopped on the scorer's table and played to the crowd as the catchy 76ers theme song blared in the arena.

Eight years of going home empty was over. The Sixers were ready for a long overdue postseason celebration.

Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left and Philadelphia rallied for a 79-78 victory over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday night, advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.

The 76ers will face Boston, which beat Atlanta in six games, in the conference semifinals.

Omar Asik missed two free throws for the Bulls with 7 seconds left that would have sealed the win. Iguodala grabbed the second miss, sprinted the length of the court, and was fouled by Asik on the driving layup. He made both and 20,362 fans went absolutely wild.

The Sixers are the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed. Memphis eliminated San Antonio last season, while Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also pulled off the rare feat.

In his second season, coach Doug Collins had already led the Sixers to their first winning season in seven years. Now, it's on to the second round for the first time Allen Iverson was an All-Star.

"I don't know how we won this game," Collins said.

The Sixers were smiling and mobbed each other as they dashed to the locker room to keep the party going.

The Sixers were 2.2 seconds from playing Game 7 in Chicago.

Now, they will pack their bags for the second round.

Iguodala scored 20 points, and Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each scored 14. The Sixers won even though the Bulls crushed them 56-33 on the boards.

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Celtics eliminate Atlanta

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett had 28 points and 14 rebounds, hitting a jumper to give Boston the lead with 31 seconds left in Game Six on Thursday night, and the Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks 83-80 to win their first-round playoff series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the fifth straight year.

The Celtics will play the 76ers. Paul Pierce had 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Boston despite playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Josh Smith had 19 points and nine rebounds and Al Horford had 15 points for Atlanta.

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Around the rim

*Oklahoma City's James Harden has been named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year after leading all bench players in scoring this season. Harden averaged 16.8 points this season.

*Denver Nuggets reserve center Chris "Birdman" Andersen has been excused indefinitely from all team-related activities after Douglas County sheriff's deputies searched his home Thursday as part of an investigation by the department's Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

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