Celtics Fall to Pacers in OT

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Pacers 123, Celtics 121 (OT)
Record 51-17
March 21, 1984


Indulge them one time. The Celtics had one of these coming, and you'd rather see them dumped in Hoosierville than beaten again in New York or Philly, right? Playing without Cedric Maxwell (strained groin), against a hungry team they'd already beaten four times, and possibly looking ahead to tomorrow's biggie in New York, the Celtics suffered a well-deserved 123-121 overtime beating at the hands of the Indiana Pacers last night.

The NBA's worst entry (20-48) was able to beat the team with the league's best record (51-17) because they were hungrier, healthier and got 13 consecutive overtime points from guard Butch Carter. Carter finished with 28, including 14 of Indiana's 15 in overtime. The catatonic Celts trailed by as many as 19 in the first half and fell behind, 76-58, early in the third. With 6:12 remaining in regulation, Indiana led, 107-92. The Celtics forced extra innings by outscoring the Pacers, 16-1, in the final six minutes of regulation. Boston tied it on a bomb by Larry Bird (25 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists) with 24 seconds left. The Celts forced extra innings when Kevin McHale (14 rebounds) gathered Steve Stipanovich's last-second turnaround.

Carter was equal parts Charles Bronson and Andrew Toney in overtime. He first exposed Scott Wedman, who was playing in the Celtics' backcourt with Dennis Johnson. Against Wedman, Carter exploded with nine points in the first two minutes as the Pacers bolted to a 117-112 lead. Why was Wedman in there? "I figured if we moved the ball around, Scott would give us an extra shooter," said Jones. "It gave us two outside shooters and one ballhandler."

Carter wasted no time, sneaking in for a three-point play off the opening tap. "I saw where the tap was going and Wedman didn't block me off," said Carter. The Celtics answered with a basket by Robert Parish, but Carter hit another jumper overWedman to make it 113-110. After Clark Kellogg (16 points, 13 rebounds) rebounded a Celtics' miss, Carter blew past Wedman for a dunk and it was 115-110. Wedman came back with a jumper of his own, but fouled Carter at the other end and a pair of free throws made it 117-112. Jones put DJ on Carter.

Nothing changed. DJ blocked one of Carter's shots, but the 6-foot-5 guard came back with a layup and a jumper to make it 121-114 with 1:15 left. "DJ is better and quicker, but the important thing was for me not to slow up," said Carter. "DJ has been known to intimidate a lot of guards. I just had to keep it going." "When a guy is that hot, it doesn't matter what you do," said DJ. "It just didn't work out." Bird and McHale scored seven in the final minute, but Jerry Sichting (13 points, nine assists) and Carter had already iced it with free throws. Carter's overtime heroics will command all the ink, but the Celtics know that this game was lost in the first 42 minutes.

Boston didn't deserve an overtime chance. Indiana shot 70 percent (16 of 23) to Boston's pitiful 26 percent (6-23) in the first quarter and led, 35-19, after one. The Pacers outscored the Celtics, 24-6, in the final nine minutes of the period. K.C. tried Wedman and Greg Kite in the second quarter. It was easily Kite's earliest appearance in any game this season, but he wasn't on the floor very long. Meanwhile, the Pacers were still beating the daylights out of the Celts. A basket by Brooke Steppe boosted Indy's lead to 50-31 with 7:04 left in the half.

Wedman (9 of 12 from the floor) brought the Celts back from the pits with six points in a 10-0 spurt. The Pacers bounced back to lead, 66-52, at intermission. Parish (22 points) awoke with six straight early in the third, sparking a 13-2 run that cut the Pacers' lead to seven (78-71). A dazzling drive to the hoop by Gerald Henderson cut it to five (84-79) late in the quarter, but George Johnson (9 of 13, 20 points) answered with a couple of hoops and the Pacers led, 90-81, after three. The fourth featured Boston's ferocious comeback, but deep down the Celtics knew they didn't deserve to win. Carter's overtime made it official.

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