Celtics Beat Knicks after King forced to Leave Game

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 108, Knicks 100

Record 52-17

March 22, 1984


Maybe the presence of Kevin McHale's Hibbing, Minn., soul brother, Bob Dylan, made the difference. More likely, the absence of franchise Bernard King turned the game around. The answer, my friend, was blowin' in the wind. But the bottom line was that the Celtics finally drove a pipe through the New York Knicks last night. Boston's 108-100 victory wasn't as satisfying as the Celtics would have liked, because the Knicks played the last 40 minutes without King. Late in the first quarter, after hitting his first five shots, King went down with a dislocated middle finger on his right hand.

King Bernard came back in street clothes for the fourth, but it didn't have the same effect as Willis Reed's inspirational hobble in 1970. The Knicks were trailing, 84-73, when Bernard reappeared. The Celtics soon had the lead up to 17. King or no King, the Celtics won because they were finally able to beat the press - Hubie Brown's press, that is, not the benevolent fourth estate. In front of Dylan and 19,590 others, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson and McHale all scored 23 points and the Celts played with composure for the full 48 minutes. After averaging 21 turnovers while losingthree of four to the Knicks, the Celts kept the giveaway count down to 14 last night.

"The best thing we did was operate well against their pressure," said coach K.C. Jones. "We looked for the open man and used patience." Hubie summed it up, saying, "Boston took us out of what we wanted to do."

The Celts also took advantage of mismatches underneath. The Knicks were without Marvin Webster (viral syndrome) and Truck Robinson was still subpar with a sprained ankle. Thus, Louis Orr was forced to guard McHale at the start. McHale (9 of 15 for the game) scored 11 in the first quarter, which ended with King in the trainer's room and the Celtics leading, 32-28.

"I dedicate this game to Bob Dylan," said McHale, who started in place of Cedric Maxwell (strained groin) and repeatedly exploited the anorexic Orr. "Bobby inspired me. He was the key to the game. We're going to have to bring him to the playoffs with us." Everyone else thought King's departure was the key to the game. With 5:12 left in the first quarter, M.L. Carr came in to guard King, who had scored 10 points in six minutes against McHale. It took King 11 seconds to score over M.L.

A minute later, King went down. Carr was not at fault. King was leaning back, expecting Carr to be there, but M.L. had moved over. King put his right hand behind his back to break the fall, then jammed the hand as he hit the deck. After writhing on the floor for a minute, King walked to the trainer's room. He went to Lenox Hill for X-rays, which were negative, then came back to watch the bitter end. "I was glad they had replays tonight," said Carr, who took a lot of abuse from the Garden crowd for the rest of the game. "I was trying to deny Bernard the ball and then he faked me back-door. I saw him fall and grab his hand."

The Celtics won it in the third quarter. Boston hit 10 of 16 shots, outscored the Knicks, 27-18, and led, 84-73, after three. The critical drive started after Truck tied the game at 57-57. Boston tightened up on defense, took advantage of three New York turnovers and scored 10 in a row. Robert Parish started the run, converting a pass from Bird for two. McHale was next, canning a jumper over Orr, then hitting two free throws after an Orr turnover. Bird scored off the break after Gerald Henderson stole a Ray Williams pass, then buried a bomb after a Bill Cartwright travel to make it 67-57.DJ scored Boston's next eight points and when Henderson nailed a three- pointer, the Celts went ahead, 78-65. "The three-pointer really drove a stake through them," said Henderson.

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