8.01.2009

Celtics Down Blazers

Celtics Improve to 37-14
1981-82 Boston Celtics


Larry Bird scored 25 points and Gerald Henderson, taking over for the injured Tiny Archibald, directed the Celtic offense in a 127-117 victory over the Trail Blazers last night.

Two free throws by Henderson with four seconds remaining gave the Celtics a 65-64 halftime lead in a strange, offensively-oriented game featuring sensational first-quarter shooting.

The Celtics managed the rather amazing feat of connecting of 15 of their first 16 shots and having a skimpy two-point (32-30) to show for it. They began the game by scoring on every non-turnover possession, but after jumping into a quick 10-2 lead by the 2:18 mark, they were unable to play comparable ball at the other end, enabling the home squad to creep back into the game.

Boston's major first-quarter threat was Maxwell, who simply tore apart Mike Harper with his assortment of inside stuff. Max sank his first seven shots en route to an 18-point half. He was abetted by Bird, who dropped in his first five shots after shooting 4 for 17 in Oakland.

But the Blazers were executing their own offense nicely. Kelvin Ransey, Jim Paxson and Mychal Thompson took turns doing their respective things on offense, and the Blazers were also able to intersperse some nice running, particular out of turnovers. The result was a 36-34 first-quarter Boston lead, and some gaudy shooting percentages.

With Boston leading, 26-22, the teams were shooting a combined .821 (23-28). By the end of the quarter the Celtics were bombing at a .739 (17-23) clip and the Blazers were indeed blazing at .727 (16-22).

Neither team could go up by more than four after the initial Boston burst, with the Celtics claiming a brief 48-44 lead at the 7:43 mark of period two. The Blazers, meanwhile, never led by more than two, the last such time at 62-60 with 1:35 remaining in the half. The score was tied 17 times by the half.

Henderson did an adequate job of running the Boston offense in the absence of the injured Archibald, but his replacement, Danny Ainge, was not as successful. Ainge gave Henderson a five-minute second-quarter blow, during which the rookie committed three fouls (or, at least, referees Ed Rush and Mike Mathis said he did) and gave the ball away twice.

The Celtics got a nice second-quarter lift from M.L. Carr, who picked up a quick 11 points on two fast-break sneakaways at the expense of Billy Ray Bates, an offensive rebound, a layup and a jumper. For some reason, Kevin McHale was never involved in the second-quarter offense.

While the Mercedes sat in the garage, ready to go, Bill Fitch was fumbling around for a spare set of keys. Translation: Archibald has a sprained right wrist and wasn't expected to be of much use, if any at all, for last night's game with the Trail Blazers.

Archibald was injured in the opening moments of the third quarter in the Wednesday night loss to Golden State. He was attempting to tap a loose ball to a teammate when an unidentified Warrior whacked his wrist from behind.

"If this were seven years ago, he could wrap it up, make an adjustment and play," observed Fitch. "But that's what happens when you're 33." Archibald missed three games in December due to the flu, and the club went 2-1. Henderson did some scoring (including a career-high 27 against New Jersey), but the characteristic Boston fast break wasn't there.

Archibald was held to six points on 3-for-10 shooting in 25 minutes of playing time against Golden State. He had been in double figures in 25 of his previous 26 games . . . Maxwell, who had been experiencing difficulty at the free throw line, entered last night's game having shot 21 for 23 from the line in the last three games . . . Chris Ford has shot 6 for 26 on the trip . . . Bird, meanwhile, was 8 for 28 in the LA and Golden State games.

The Trail Blazers, who defeated the Celtics, 123-119, on Super Sunday, were pleased to announce that Calvin Natt would play after missing a game with a sprained ankle . . . Eric Fernsten has not played on this trip, giving him a chance for what Hank Finkel and Steve Kuberski would have labeled a "trippa- zippa;" i.e., a complete trip of DNPs . . . McHale, who hadn't been getting the ball in his scoring areas too frequently for a few games, bounced back with a 15-point, 3-block performance against the Warriors . . . The Celtics are 16-9 on the road, fourth best in the NBA . . . Rick Robey is rediscovering his soft inside shooting touch, having quietly shot 17 for 21 in his past six games, encompassing 72 minutes of playing time.

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