1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 104, Hawks 87
He is still trying to get the knack of his new role, so naturally Scott Wedman wasn't pleased Saturday night when he missed his first three shots against the Atlanta Hawks. But he made six of his next seven and wound up with 16 points in Boston's 104-87 victory, and anybody who doesn't recognize why the Celtics consider him so valuable hasn't been listening to coach K. C. Jones lately.
"I've been telling people he's just a hell of a guy to have on the team," said Jones, whoseCeltics are the NBA's hottest team, winning eight of their last nine. "The man is a tremendous shooter, and it's something that a man of his caliber can't find more minutes in a game. Most guys in that situation would be griping and complaining. But Scott has accepted the challenge and comes out shooting whenever we ask him. He's a hard worker." Wedman has been waiting in the wings, principally because he is a shooting forward behind Larry Bird and Cedric Maxwell. Wedman's role is not suited to a player with a big ego or little patience. A nine-year veteran, Wedman possesses Bird-like qualities, and when he played for Kansas City he was often compared to John Havlicek for his ability to get open by moving well without the ball.
But not until Bird went down with a knee injury over the weekend did Wedman start doing the things his teammates expect. Wedman came through with 15 points in 23 minutes against Denver Friday night and played 19 minutes against the Hawks. He had averaged 8.2 minutes and 2.4 points in the season's first 21 games. "It's different," said Wedman of his new role, "especially after you've played a lot of minutes for several years. If Larry had been around and I'd missed those three shots, I might have been looking over my shoulder. But luckily, I got to stay in, and the shots began to go in.
"I think I've worked harder this year than any other because I know I have to be ready when I get in there. One of the hardest things to do is to come off the bench shooting, but that's my job. I spend a lot of time with my shooting partner (Gerald) Henderson working on just that." The injury to Bird not only gave Wedman a chance to play, but it reminded the Celtics that winning is a team effort. "When we were winning nine in a row (earlier this season)," Wedman said, "we played the same way as we played against Denver and Atlanta. But we all looked to Bird because he is such a fantastic player. When he's out, we look to each other, and if we move the ball and play with patience, we seem to play pretty well."
Wedman added that there is no animosity between he and Bird, since no one has to tell him about Bird's talents. "He's just great," said Wedman. "And he doesn't let up on anybody. When I'm guarding him, he's on me to play better defense. He plays hard all the time, and you learn to do so, too."
Bird was examined Saturday by Dr. Robert Leach and advised to take it easy, according to trainer Ray Melchoirre. His injury is still being described as strained ligaments in the right knee, and Bird hopes to practice today when the club works out at Hellenic College. "He'll be examined by Dr. Leach again before practice," said Melchiorre, "and we'll know more then." . . . Jones was still not happy with the Celtics' offense, which had 27 turnovers against the Hawks. He was pleased with the Celtics' 48-25 rebounding domination, led by Robert Parish, who also had a game-high 24 points . . . The Celtics looked poised and polished against the Hawks' trapping defenses, and several players gave credit to "Magic" Maxwell for his ability to break the press by dribbling up the wings. Maxwell also had six assists and four steals . . . Boston is 8-4 on the road and 9-2 at home, including one game at Hartford . . . Rhode Island
product Sly Williams, out with a thumb injury, said he hopes to rejoin the Hawks tomorrow night, with Scott Hastings likely to replace him on the injured list . . . One bright spot for the Hawks against the Celtics was rookie Glenn (Doc) Rivers, who had eight assists and four steals . . . Seven of the Hawks' 10 steals came in the third quarter, when Atlanta wiped out an 11-point deficit.