1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 117, Sonics 93
It was K. C. Jones' 200th career coaching victory, reduced the magic number to 14, matched the Celtics' largest Garden victory margin of the season, and featured a final five minutes for the benefit of Mr. Kite (Beatles reference). Boston's 117-93 win over the comatose Seattle SuperSonics yesterday was all of the above, and less. If you're been waiting for a Celtic blowout, it was great, but folks have come to expect a little more from Lenny Wilkens' charges.
How good were the Celtics? How bad were the Sonics? Seattle shot 43 percent from the floor, 70 percent from the line, got outrebounded, 56-43, and committed 20 turnovers while managing only six steals and 10 (that's right, 10) assists. "We didn't handle the pressure well and didn't play our typical game," admitted Jack Sikma, who was held to an embarrassing four points. "Their pressure took us out of our offense, and we didn't have a lot of time to get the ball where we wanted to on our offense."
Quinn Buckner, Danny Ainge, Gerald Henderson and Dennis Johnson applied pressure, but Sonics guard Gus Williams also helped take Seattle out of its offense. Playing like a sawed-off Edgar Jones, Williams launched 19 shots (making six) and committed four turnovers. He was out of control all afternoon. The Sonics were tired. Seattle played Indiana in Tacoma, Wash., late Friday, faced a 5 a.m. wakeup call Saturday morning and flew all day Saturday. They practiced at Brookline's Hellenic College Saturday night and got up early for yesterday's 1 p.m. start.
Seattle stayed with the Celtics for 16 minutes. Helped by Boston's 11-for-28 first-quarter shooting, the Sonics led, 27-26, after one. Reggie King was rebounding, Danny Vranes was jumping over people, and Seattle's guards were having an easy time with the drop-back Celtics. Everything changed when Buckner and Ainge started the second quarter for the Celtics. "Quinn and I looked at each other and said, Let's pick up and put on the pressure,' " Ainge said after the game. "I think we learned our lesson in the Chicago game. We haven't been playing as aggressively as we're capable of."
Seattle led, 34-32, with 8:28 left in the half, when Kevin McHale turned on the blowtorch. McHale started with four points in an 8-0 run which put Boston ahead for good. After a brief interruption, McHale led another surge with a followup, a three-point play, and a tap-in over King. When McHale grabbed his 10th rebound of the quarter and put it back in the basket for his 14th and 15th points of the period, Boston had completed a 22-6 run and led, 54-40, with 1:20 left in the half.
"It was one of those situations where we were running the ball pretty well," said McHale, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. "Any time we get the break going, there are opportunities to go to the boards because people are out of position. I was anticipating shots and got a couple of fall- ins. The ball just happened to be dropping into my hands." "They can hurt us with the big lineup," said Sikma, who was scoreless in the first half. "We're not the tallest team in the league."
It was 56-44 at intermission. Larry Bird (19 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists), and Robert Parish (18 and 8) each scored eight in the third quarter, which ended with Boston leading, 86-65. Seattle made only 8 of 23 shots and was outscored, 30-21, in the third. Sub forward Tom Chambers (18 points) tried to keep things under control early in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics kept the pressure on, and pushed the lead to 30 (107-77) on a double-pump layup by Carlos Clark.
The curtain calls started when Bird came out with 7:16 left. A minute later, M. L. Carr replaced Cedric Maxwell (12 points, 9 rebounds). Greg Kite replaced McHale with 5:08 remaining. "It's been a while since this happened," said a happy Jones. "The second quarter was the big difference for us. The defensive job by Quinn and Danny really got us going." "We executed better today," added McHale. "I don't think anybody on the team is crazy about the way we've been executing the last couple of games, so it was good to see the improvement."