1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 126, Pistons 118
You can find flaws if you look hard enough. The Celtics refuse to bury opponents. They have a philanthropic streak that inspires them to let beaten teams back into ballgames. They also have yet to score 140 points or hold an opponent under 60. While we're at it, let's mention that Brooke Shields could use a few pounds, and that it would be nice if Michael Jackson would learn the slide trombone.
The Green Team's giddy glide through November continued at Boston Garden last night. On the strength of a 39-point performance by Larry Joe Bird, the Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons, 126-118, avenging their opening night beating in the Silverdome and extending their winning streak to seven games. They did all of this on the strength of a 45-31 first quarter in which they vaporized the visitors, hitting 19 of 24 floor shots.
The margin was down to 12 at the half, and Detroit actually took a one- point lead in the third, but Bird, Robert Parish (28, 12 rebounds) and Kevin McHale (23, 12 rebounds) refused to crumble to the Detroit wheels this time. Boston's treetop trio combined for a whopping 90 points and 32 rebounds while hitting 35 of 52 floor shots (67 percent). "They played like they want to win a world championship," said Detroit coach Chuck Daly. "Bird had a classic game, and they just ran it down our throats. They had revenge on their minds."
Bird was particularly accurate. Playing both forward and guard, he had 16 in the first quarter, 22 at halftime and 33 after three periods. When Kelly (Scarface) Tripucka (26 points) led the Pistons back into it, Bird and his sidekicks, Parish and McHale, were there to answer. "When you get in trouble, you want to go with your power, especially down the stretch," said Celtic coach K.C. Jones. "That's why we went with Larry in the backcourt and kept trying to get the ball down low." The fourth-quarter surge should have been for the benefit of Greg and Carlos Clark. Boston's first-half explosion should have buried the Pistons.
Gerald Henderson scored 11 in the first six minutes as the Celtics burst to a 27-12 lead. Think about that: 27 points in six minutes would mean 216 points in 48 minutes. When the quarter was over, the Celts led, 45-31, and already had three players in double figures. "All around, I'd say it was our best quarter of the season," said Parish. Detroit's Isiah Thomas (27, eight assists) didn't get untracked until the second quarter. His running mate, Tripucka, waited until the second half, but had an excuse. He suffered a 10-stitch cut Tuesday and wore goggles throughout the first quarter. Tripucka was no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with goggles. His game improved markedly when he discarded the protection.
A Scott Wedman jumper before halftime gave the Celtics their biggest lead, 67-50. Detroit trimmed the deficit to a dozen by intermission and roared to a short-lived lead in the third quarter. The Celtics were at their giveaway worst in the opening minutes of the third. Boston players stood around and admired Thomas and Co. for six minutes after halftime. In that stretch, Detroit outscored Boston, 21-9, and when Tripucka hit a jumper from the left corner, Detroit had its only lead, 80-79, with 6:03 left in the third.
Parish got the lead back on a followup, the start of a 6-0 Celtic run. A jumper out top by Bird made it 85-80. With Bird and Parish taking charge, the Celts went on another roll and managed to push their lead back to 102-89 by the end of the quarter. In the fourth, Detroit got to within six with 3:48 left, but McHale responded with three consecutive baskets to give the Celtics a 122-110 lead and the ballgame. "We've been losing leads like this all season long," noted Bird, who had 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks to go along with his 39 points. "Hopefully we won't keep doing it in the future. "If we were playing a team like Philadelphia, Milwaukee or New York, we wouldn't be so lucky," he said. "It seems that when we have a lead, we have lapses on defense and they come back on us."