9.19.2008

Portland Pummels C's in Preseason

1981-82 Boston Celtics
Preseason

Recommended sound track for the film of this wretched Celtic performance: over a montage of ill-conceived and poorly executed shots, sloppy passes and unretrieved rebounds, the voice of Howlin' Wolf, or someone of that strain, wailing a ditty entitled "The End of the Trip Blues."

And so we give you Portland 114, Boston 99, a laughable final score in the context. The Trail Blazers led by as many as 27, and there never was a ballgame after a first-period run of 12 unanswered Portland points created a 30-18 lead for the home squad.

"We're lucky we didn't see more than one of these out here," Boston coach Bill Fitch said. "We've stayed out on the road for 12 days, really. Riding those airplanes and playing those back-to-back games at this point of the season is too much."

The tale of this game can be told in one stat - offensive rebounding. Portland picked off 25 second shots to Boston's 11, racking up 28 second- chance points to the visitors' 10. Kermit Washington, Mychal Thompson, Calvin Natt, Kevin Kunnert - my God, even fragile Mike Harper - all took turns abusing the Celtics on the glass. It was the sorriest Boston board demonstration since the night during the '78-'79 season when Kansas City piled up 16 second-chance points in the fourth period.

"They played ping-pong on the boards," said Kevin McHale, who managed to foul out in 14 minutes and 35 seconds of playing time. Added Larry Bird, a listless rebounder last night, "They were muscling us, and we were just standing around letting them do it."

But this is not to detract from the Portland performance, for the Trail Blazers did just about all the things a good basketball team is supposed to do. They shot, ran, passed and defended well, pleasing coach Jack Ramsay immensely. "I like the way we approached the game," said Dr. Jack. "We were very aggressive in our attack, including our boardwork, and I thought we played pretty good defense."

Boston's last moment of distinction was a Robert Parish drive that created an 18-17 deficit with 5:22 remaining in the opening period. Thompson countered with a jump hook. Kelvin Ransey popped in a jumper. Washington cleaned house underneath for a ferocious rebound and Silas-like backhand followup shot, and the Blazers had the first six of the aforementioned 12-point run. The Celtics got it back to nine at 30-21, but a basket and two free throws by Billy Ray Bates made it 34-21 at the period, and Boston would never come closer than 11 again, and then only once.

The Celtics' reaction time was Early Primo Carnera, and it is possible they did not get one loose ball. Everything the Trail Blazers did turned out right, as air balls were turned into followup hoops and 22-foot heaves bounced to shooters open at the foul line. And once the Trail Blazers sensed the reality of the situation, the Celtics had no chance.

"When they found out we were just the Boston Celtics and not the world champions ready to play," explained Fitch, "then they really started playing up to their ability."

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