Pistons Require 3 OTs to Top Celtics Record

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Record: 18-6

The sports fans of the 1980s can be excused their ennui in the face of record-setting performances. Records are made to be broken, the cliche insists, and so it is. Babe Ruth's name no longer sits atop a yard-long string's worth of all-time baseball records, and the "four-minute mile" is simply a curious phrase, with grandmothers hitting the tape in 3:58.4. Still, the 6183 basketball fans who journeyed to Boston Garden on Friday, Feb. 27, 1959, to attend a Red Auerbach coaches' clinic and then stayed to watch the Boston Celtics play the Minneapolis Lake should be allowed a moment of silence in the wake of a recent sports page headline that said "Pistons, 186-184."

On that school-vacation midwinter weekday afternoon some 25 years ago, the Celtics, playing without the injured William Felton Russell, scored 173 points (Tom Heinsohn had a game- high 43 points, while Bob Cousy posted 31 and assisted on 28 other baskets) and the Lakers 139 in the regulation 48 minutes of play. It was the Boston record for most points by a team in a single game that both the Detroit Pistons and the losing Denver Nuggets surpassed in Denver. But there's a rub: The Pistons and the Nuggets played three overtime periods, 15 more minutes than regulation, to post their Gross National Product-type figures.

Sure, there'll be an asterisk next to the line in the National Basketball Association record book that will list (for the time being, at least) the Detroit Pistons as the team that scored the most points in a game. To the Boston Celtics chauvinist, an asterisk isn't enough. The men in green did it the right way - in the time allotted for a regular league game - and until another team reaches 174 points in 48 minutes, the record is theirs alone, no ifs, ands, buts or asterisks.

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