PHILADELPHIA – Elton Brand scored 20 points, and Spencer Hawes had 12 points and 10 rebounds Friday night to help the Philadelphia 76ers remain in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 99-86 victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics would have grabbed first with a win, knocking out a Sixers team that has held that spot for all but a few days this season. The Sixers outscored Boston by 20 points in the third quarter to take control.

There was a serious scare when Celtics guard Mickael Pietrus left on a stretcher and was hospitalized after an awkward collision late in the first half. He was listed as having a questionable closed head injury. Pietrus landed hard on his tailbone and his head nearly smacked the court. He instantly clutched the back of his head with both hands and rolled over on his side.

The Sixers wore down a Celtics team concerned about its injured teammate and already playing short-handed. Pietrus started in place of Ray Allen, who sat out with a sore left ankle. Guard Avery Bradley also left Boston’s eighth straight road game with a sprained left ankle.

But it was Pietrus, more than the score, that left the Celtics solemn on the bench. He crashed to the court after he collided with 76ers guard Lou Williams on a drive down the lane, grabbed his head and was down for at least 10 minutes. Trainers from both teams tended to him.

The Celtics circled Pietrus and a couple of players took a knee as he was put on a stretcher and taken out.

Several Celtics sat on the bench with their heads bowed.

His injury sucked the festive atmosphere in the important game right out of the arena. The Celtics were only a half-game behind the 76ers.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce each scored 20 points. Rajon Rondo had 17 assists.

Williams scored 19 points, Jrue Holiday had 15 and Andre Iguodala 14 to give Coach Doug Collins his 400th career victory.

The Sixers topped 94 points for only the second time in six games.