1981-82 Boston Celtics
If one definition of a great player is a guy who can help you win the game even when going 0-for-10, then perhaps an alternate definition is a guy who can make the big play when the rest of his night was El Stinko.
Meet Kevin McHale, who was not exactly having his best night (being foul- laden and all) when the Celtics did a very Celtics-like thing with the team leading by a point and 7:46 remaining. What they did was call a timeout and decide on the best course. And the action decided upon was giving the ball to McHale, who has produced so often in the past. The ball came into McHale, a clearout was made, and he calmly flipped in a post-up jump hook.
"We did a good job after timeouts tonight," said coach Bill Fitch, "because everyone concentrated on what they were supposed to do. And I really appreciated McHale's play because he was having a bad night. But when we called his number, he came through. He responded and made a couple of key plays (he rebounded in traffic immediately thereafter) even though he wasn't having a good night."
McHale failed to block a shot for the first time in 10 games. Ironically, it was only yesterday that the latest stats revealed that he was leading the league in that category with 3.3 per game in his first nine games . . . Artis Gilmore was immense, with 27 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. It was certainly one of his finest games ever against Boston . . . Bird played 47 minutes and 24 seconds, missing only the final 36 seconds of the first half and then only because he had three fouls and Fitch didn't want him picking up a cheap fourth personal.