11.23.2009

C's Drop 4th Straight

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Knicks 117, Celtics 113
Record: 9-5
11/23/1983

How do you like your turkey?

The Celtics were outplayed and outscored again last night. It took two overtimes, but when the last of the final buzzers sounded, Hubie Brown's hungry Knicks had danced on the fabled Green Team again, 117-113, before a bloodthirsty 16,921 at the Penn Station sports palace. It was the fourth consecutive loss for the sagging Celtics, which means that Boston will be faced with the ugly prospect of five straight when Atlanta invades the Garden Friday night.

The Celtics had plenty of chances to win this one, but Gerald Henderson missed an easy jumper at the close of the first overtime, Larry Bird continued his shooting slump (6 of 19) and Robert Parish (7-20) was neo-catatonic in the extra innings. Collectively, Boston shot a woeful 4 for 19 in the two overtimes. "We had chances to win and we didn't win," sighed Kevin McHale (an impressive 25 points and 13 rebounds). "Three times we didn't win."

The Celtics' best chance for victory came at the end of Overtime 1, when Henderson (21 points) missed an open 8-foot jumper with the score tied and three seconds left on the clock. "You've got to give Marvin Webster credit," said Henderson. "He blocked my view of the basket. I got it up and over him, but it came off the back of the rim. He had his hand up and I couldn't see the basket."

"We had a chance to win and missed a chippy," said a disappointed K. C. Jones. It was 108-108 at the end of Overtime 1. Henderson opened the second extra period with a follow-up basket, but Louis Orr answered for the Knicks. New York went ahead, 112-110, on a jumper by Ray Williams (17 points, 12 assists). After a three-point play by Parish, Bernard King (24) put the Knicks ahead for good (114-113), canning a jumper in Bird's face with 1:43 left.

Then Parish missed a layup and Orr rebounded. When Rory Sparrow (24, 10 assists) buried a bomb to make it 116-113 with 1:22 left, Boston called time and the new Garden exploded. In the closing seconds, Bird had a shot blocked by Webster and Parish had one swatted by Ray Williams. After Parish rebounded a bomb, McHale was hit with an offensive foul with 13 seconds left. New York had the ball, a 116-113 lead and the game.

"To beat them we needed the key block by Marvin and the key block by Ray," noted Brown. "They were big plays, and when we got the ball, we did something with it. The Celtics are usually the team blocking the shot and making the big play at the end. For us to do that, it was extremely big." There was nothing clinical about this one, folks. In five minutes of the first overtime, each team managed to score only four points. The Celtics shot 2 for 9, the Knicks 2 for 8. The Knicks were hit with a 24-second-clock violation with 11 seconds left, and Boston blew its chance when Henderson's shot clanged off the rim.

Regulation ended after the Celtics, who had trailed (by as many as 17) since late in the first quarter, pulled even with six seconds left. McHale rebounded a Sparrow miss and passed to Bird (11 assists and rebounds), who fed Henderson in the lane. Henderson laid it in to tie it at 104-104. The Knicks called time and set up a final play. After two more timeouts, Sparrow finally inbounded to King, who tossed an airball over Bird. The shot landed in the hands of Dennis Johnson as the buzzer sounded.

The Celtics were thoroughly outplayed in the first half and trailed, 63-51, at intermission. Knicks center Bill Cartwright accounted for New York's big lead. No longer Invisi-Bill, Cartwright had 18 points and seven rebounds to Parish's four and two in the first half. Cartwright finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. New York's biggest lead was 78-61, midway through the third quarter. That was when Jones tried his "big" team (two centers, two forwards and Henderson). Boston's treetop team dominated the boards for a while, and the Celtics clawed back into it. The Celtics outscored the Knicks, 16-4, to pull within five (82-77) in the final minute of the period.

The Knicks led, 84-77, after three. Boston had a lot of luck with Sammy Baugh court-length passes in the third and fourth quarters. The Celtics pulled to within two several times, but couldn't tie it until Henderson scored with six seconds left. Then came the 4- for-19 overtime shooting and the Celtics' well-deserved fourth straight defeat.

ERIC FERNSTEN UPDATE

The ex-Celtics center-forward sat at the end of the Knicks bench in street clothes. He's on the injured-reserve list (Achilles tendon). He's still waiting for a ruling on his grievance, filed against Boston after the Celtics cut him last fall. Fernsten still claims he had a hernia at the time he was cut, and expects an arbitration date within 4-6 weeks.

Earlier this fall, it appeared he and the Celtics had made up and he would be at training camp, but he refused to take a physical and the Celtics said goodby. "I didn't take the physical because I hadn't yet talked to my agent (Don Dejardin) about the contract I agreed to with the Celtics," said Fernsten. "The deal was that I would take the physical after my agent approved the terms of the contract, but he was busy with the big San Diego-Seattle trade and the Celtics wouldn't wait. They just call Ed and said to report for a physical in 15 minutes."

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