Celtics Fall to 12-3
1990-91 Boston Celtics
Remembering the 29-5 Start
Too much Charles.
The Celtics , 76ers and anyone else remotely associated with the NBA could have predicted a Charles Barkley explosion last night.
All the elements were in place. He had been ejected from a game the night before, the Celtics were in town, pride and manhood were at stake and those all added up to vintage Barkley.
The Philly Fridge dutifully produced. He had 37 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists and -- are you sitting down? -- only one foul (an offensive one at that) as the Sixers outlasted the Celtics, 116-110.
There were few complaints from the Boston locker room after this one, even though the defeat snapped an eight-game winning streak. The Celtics had rebounded from a sluggish first half and the game was tied, 96-96, with 6:32 left. On the road, against a quality team, what more could Chris Ford want?
How about some kryptonite to stop Barkley? Fittingly, Sir Charles chose that moment to break the tie for the last time with a dunk over approximately 17 Celtics. Then, he overpowered Larry Bird en route to a fast-break layup, leaving No. 33 on the floor.
The Celtics got within 2 (100-98) on a Reggie Lewis jumper, but Barkley fed Ron Anderson for a jumper and then finished off an 8-2 run in spectacular fashion with a driving reverse layup that hung on the rim long enough to elicit the maximum response from the first sellout crowd this season at the Spectrum.
The hoop made it 104-98 and the Celtics never got closer than 4 the rest of the way. In the closing minutes, Mike Gminski had two of his seven blocked shots (Manute Bol must be teaching the G-Man something) and Rickey Green (19 points) drove a couple of stakes through the Celtics with 7 points.
Ordinarily, it would be time now to turn to Barkley for some inflammatory trash, which he unfailingly delivers after such an epic performance. But the Sixers' quote machine is set on B-O-R-I-N-G until further notice (probably after Christmas) because he is upset with the local media for writing what he considered to be "bleep, bleep."
He may be jeopardizing his position on the All-Interview team, but he says now all cares about is "playing hard and making a lot of money." So what were his thoughts on this first clash between the Atlantic Division's Athens and Sparta?
"It was a good game between two good teams. We're trying to catch them so it was a good win. Have a happy holiday season," Barkley said.
Said Bird, "This was a big game and he was at home and you expect a great player to step forward. He dominated the game."
Barkley's underlings weren't too shabby, either. Hersey Hawkins had 24 and Anderson added 19. Kevin McHale led the Celtics with 29 and Robert Parish came up big (22 points, 15 rebounds), as Ford used only seven players in attempt to keep the streak going.
"You can't be totally disappointed," Ford said. "We came back. At 96-96, we had a chance to win the game. Then, they got some loose balls and made things happen and we didn't."
Ford had anticipated Barkley coming out strong. The Fridge had been given the heave-ho the night before in a tight game in Detroit for elbowing Dennis Rodman.
"Your only hope is that he has a bad game," Ford said. "But I knew he would come out strong and take it to us."
Barkley and Hawkins both were on target early as the Sixers built a 12-point lead. It was 58-48 at the half, but the Celtics opened the third with a 10-0 run to tie the game, as Lewis (18) took his turn and torched Hawkins with impunity.
Philly recovered to lead, 87-83, after three and pulled ahead by 7. But the Celtics managed to forge one final tie when, trailing, 96-91, Bird (15 points on 6-for-17, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) nailed a trey and Brian Shaw (20 points) scored on the break.
The Sixers were 2 for 10 in the quarter at that time and the Celtics actually missed a chance to take the lead. Then it was Barkley Time. Again.