3.13.2008

1986 Cs Lose to Bullets, Fall to 50-12

Ugly night for the Celtics . Ugly. Larry Bird shoots 10 for 30, and the team as a whole strokes it at a delightful 31 percent (19-62) clip in the final 29 minutes. Meanwhile, poor, hard-working Robert Parish can't even derive the requisite satisfaction out of a season-high 25 rebounds.

Oh, and that's not to mention the fact that Bill Walton had his nose broken for the 13th time, limiting his playing time to five first-half minutes.

For Boston, it was a full moon game from the first minute of play, when Manute Bol ruined Kevin McHale's first two shot attempts as a prelude to a six-block first half. So there wasn't exactly great shock in the Celtics' camp when this bizarre affair was decided with five seconds remaining in overtime when Gus Williams threw in a three-pointer that stood up as the winning basket in a 110-108 Washington triumph.

Whether you're talking justice or vibes, Washington was the logical choice to win this game. In truth, had the Celtics not lost this game, one might well have started to wonder exactly how badly they'd have to play to ever lose a game.

K.C. Jones knew the score. "Washington deserved it," he said. "They hustled and scrapped all night."

The deciding sequence began with 32 seconds left in the OT when Bird sank two foul shots to tie the game at 107. Washington had favored one-on-one isolations as an offensive tactic throughout the game, and the choice this time was Williams on Danny Ainge. After dribbling for a while, Williams flipped the ball to the foul line to an unguarded Kevin McKenna, who threw up a jumper so heavy that the rebound bounced high and to the left. Cliff Robinson (22 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in an heroic performance) made a superb save along the baseline to McKenna, who promptly threw it back to Williams, camped on the left wing behind the three-point lead. Williams let it fly, and it went in to give Washington a 110-107 lead. There were five seconds left when Boston called a timeout.

When play resumed, Ainge was fouled on a two-point attempt. He made the first free throw, whereupon the Celtics called for a 20-second timeout. He deliberately missed the second, but by the time anyone controlled the rebound, the game was over and Boston's eight-game winning streak was history.

The Celtics had managed a 10-point halftime lead (62-52) thanks to a dazzling two-minute drill (three fast-break baskets emanating from turnovers and a spectacular Bird follow-up) that thrilled both friend (of whom there were many) and foe alike among the capacity crowd of 19,123. But Robinson scored six unanswered quickies to open the second half, and although Boston did get the lead back up to nine (74-65), the Bullets had established the fact that they weren't going to be pushed around.

Washington was within three (82-79) at the three-quarter mark, and if the Celtics were counting on another Superman job from Bird to pull them out, they were ill-informed. Bird had a forgettable final period, throwing up ill- advised three-pointers (two in a row at 83-all), missing other makeable shots and finding himself abused by veteran Dan Roundfield, whose two straight isolation jumpers gave Washington a 99-95 lead with 1:52 left.

But two free throws by Kevin McHale (33 points) and a foul line jumper by Bird (even a trashy Bird is dangerous) with 11 seconds left tied the game at 99. When Darren Daye (20) had a shot blocked by Parish (whose 25 boards tied Ralph Sampson for the league season high), it was retrieved by Bird, who called time out with two seconds left. But the best shot the Celtics could get was a 22-foot flyer by Bird, and so the clubs went into

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