The trip peaked when the Green Team tap-danced on the color purple Sunday in the Los Angeles Forum, but last night's 115-100 victory over the woeful Warriors was impressive in its own way.
Stripped of high-scoring forwards Kevin McHale and Scott Wedman, the Celtics were short-handed for the full 48 minutes. They were also staggering from Monday's loss in Phoenix, and weary from this Rand McNally tour which would make Crimson Travel blush.
But Larry Bird's continued brilliance, Robert Parish's vengeful heart (the Warriors traded him to Boston in 1980) and a strong effort from Greg Kite (nine rebounds) saved the Celtics here in the Bay Area quagmire.
Boston trailed by three after one and by one at the half. Rainbow-hoisting Purvis Short shot the Warriors to a 71-67 lead early in the third.
Then Bird took over. En route to his third triple-double of the trip (36 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), he hit a series of fallaways, step-backs and standing jumpers. He scored 13 third-period points, grabbed almost every defensive rebound and found Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson all alone under the hoop.
At the same time, Boston's defense tightened a notch and Kite kept Larry Smith off the boards. Parish blocked a shot by Joe Barry Carroll (29 points), then Bill Walton came in and snatched a rebound which led to a transition jumper by Jerry Sichting. Boston had an 83-75 lead, and Warriors coach John Bach called time.
After the pause, Parish hit a free throw, and Walton grabbed a defensive rebound and fed Bird for a breakaway dunk which made it 86-75 with 2:37 left in the third. Boston had outscored Golden State, 19-4, and for all practical purposes, the game was history. The Warriors scored only 39 points in the second half.
"We had constant ball movement," said Walton. "That's what we had against LA, and we had it again tonight."
The Celts were down to 10 players because McHale (sore left Achilles' tendon) was still on the shelf and Wedman was in Kansas City having his strained lower back treated by therapist/friend Steve Krischel.
K.C. Jones started Kite in place of Wedman. It was the sixth start of Kite's three-year career. Kite guarded Golden State's rebounding machine, Smith, and tossed in a lefty hook in the second minute of play.
Kite had a block to go with his nine rebounds in 31 minutes. He also held Smith to one offensive rebound.
"Greg Kite gets the game ball," said Jones. "He did one heck of a job keeping Smith off the offensive boards."
The Celts trailed, 17-16, with 3:39 left in the first. Moments later, Parish was escorted to the locker room by trainer Ray Melchiorre and had a three-stitch head wound (not to be confused with a personal problem) closed by Warrior team physician Bob Albo.
Golden State led, 30-27, after one, and guard Terry Teagle shot the Warriors to a 40-33 lead early in the second.
The Celts answered with a 14-1 run, starting when Bird scored six points in 66 seconds. DJ capped an 8-0 drive with two free throws to put Boston ahead.
Jones went with a three-guard lineup (Ainge, DJ and Sichting), and Ainge and Sichting hit jumpers. Then Parish returned and scored to complete the 14-1 spurt. Boston led, 47-41.
Carroll finally shifted into gear, scoring eight points in a 10-4 run which tied the game. Short kept the heat on, and the Warriors led, 61-60, at halftime.
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