Celtics Blow Big Lead, Lose to . . . you know, that one team

Celtics Fall to 34-12
1981-82 Boston Celtics

I can't begin to tell you how bad I feel," said Bill Fitch, lamenting the Celtics' 119-113 loss to the Lakers. "When you see your team lose a big lead like that, it should hurt. That's three games here we've lost to the West, and Houston beat us, too.

"Maybe you'll say it isn't so bad if we lose a game at home every 60 days. But that doesn't make what happened today any easier to swallow. We got careless when they got careless in the second half. They'd make a mistake, and instead of scoring, we'd give it right back. It hurts when you're on national television, where people get their first look at you, and you don't play your best. It hurts to lose a game like this. It hurts a lot."

The manner in which Boston blew a 20-point lead not only left Fitch in a blue funk but also brought forth the realization that the worst may be yet to come. The Celtics have lost three games at home to Western Conference foes - Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles. Now they head for a six-game trip on which they'll play those same clubs in their backyard.

Sundays hardly have been pleasurable for Boston this season. The Celtics have yet to win a Sunday afternoon game.

Second-guessers could point out that Larry Bird was on the bench for a critical 3:51 span in the fourth quarter with the Celtics trailing and the game on the line.

Bird sat down for a rest at the 7:20 mark with Boston behind, 96-93. He returned at 3:29 with Los Angeles leading, 104-99. The Celtics never got closer than three points after that.

"I've never been physically tired in a game of basketball in my life," said Bird. "It was the coach's decision. I like to to be in there when it gets tough. But this is the way the coach wanted to do it. I was a little surprised."

The Lakers felt the Celtics helped them by playing a deny defense, leaving Robert Parish to guard Abdul-Jabbar one-on-one.

"Kareem was having a good game," said Parish, "and when that happens, there is not much you can do. What you try to do is deny him the ball or get into position on the floor before he does. But that is something that is easier said than done."

The Celtics and Lakers will do it all over again next Sunday on the West Coast. Neither team will forget what happened yesterday.

"We stayed in there," said Abdul-Jabbar. "We stayed with it and didn't hang our heads. We came back. I'm not surprised because we've done it before. But against the Celtics, it surprises everyone."

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