1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 103, Hawks 88
March 17, 1984
You didn't expect the Celtics to lose on St. Patrick's Day, did you? The team that gives the term "Wearin' of the Green" a whole new meaning improved its league-best road record to 24-9 with a 103-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night. Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Gerald Henderson and other sons of the old sod put the lights out in Georgia the way they usually do. Boston outran Atlanta and played better defense than the slowdown Hawks. The Celtics are undoubtedly hoping to see Atlanta (not Washington) in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics are 4-0 vs. the Ted Turner A.C. this year and have won 14 of their last 16 regular season games against Atlanta.
The Celtics led by five at the half and hit 15 of 18 shots in the third quarter to take a commanding 83-69 lead into the fourth period. Gerald Henderson, who scored a team-high 11 points in the first half, hit from the top of the key and buried a three-pointer from the left corner to move Boston to a 61-53 lead early in the third quarter. The strangest scene of the night came four minutes after intermission. Dan Roundfield was fouled by Larry Bird as he scored inside. Before Roundfield could take his free throw, Tree Rollins (who else?) got a technical for jawing with Earl Strom. When Atlanta coach Mike Fratello cameout to get Rollins, Bird told Fratello to get back to the bench. Strom, meanwhile, was trying to control things singlehandedly. Fellow official Bill Sarr was ill and couldn't make back after halftime.
The incident seemd to ignite Bird and the Celtics. After Dennis Johnson missed the technical, Bird hit a couple of quick hoops, sparking a four-minute 12-2 run which carried the Green to a 75-58 lead. The Celtics hit eight of their first nine shots in the period while Atlanta was missing 9 of 12. The Celtics carried a 16-point (83-69) lead into the fourth quarter. Atlanta trimmed it to eight with a 6-0 run, helped when the Celtics were tagged with a technical for six men on the floor (Ainge was tardy getting off the court).
With the lead down to eight (89-81), Bird and Parish led a 7-2 surge. When Parish scored off a Bird feed with 4:36 left, the Celtics' lead was back to 13 (96-83), and Atlanta took a timeout. After the pause, Bird hit a falling-down one-hander in the lane, and McHale converted a three-point play off a power drive to make it 101-87. That was it. A 17-4 run carried Boston from a 16-14 deficit to a 31-20 lead in the first quarter. Boston led, 31-23, after one and 52-47 at the half. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the national anthem was performed by James Brown, who sounds as if he's lost something off his fastball. The Hawks were still flying from their stunning 105-102 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Spectrum Friday night. Atlanta came into the game with the league's best statistical defense, giving up only 102 points per game.
The estimable Roundfield was in his starting forward slot. He's been in and out since breaking his nose against the Knicks Feb. 27. Henderson (bruised calf) started for the Celtics, extending his consecutive-game streak to 342. Henderson started against Milwaukee Friday night, but played only seven minutes. There wasn't much defense played in the opening minutes. Rollins scored three early baskets on two follows and a hook. Atlanta led, 16-14, with 6:34 left in the first when the Celtics made their move. DJ started the 17-4 stretch with a jumper. The Celtics were running effectively and took an 18-16 lead on a fast-break jam by Parish (nine points and eight rebounds in the quarter).
Parish's dunk was part of an 8-0 run which pushed the Celtics to a 22-16 lead. Tree broke the streak with another followup stuff, and Dominique Wilkins jammed off the break to make it 22-20. Then the Celtics ripped off nine in a row. Boston took a 29-20 lead on a tap-in by Cedric Maxwell. After a 20-second timeout by the Hawks, Bird hit a stepback to make it 31-20. Eddie Johnson canned one from just inside halfcourt to close the quarter. K.C. Jones had McHale, Ainge, Quinn Buckner, Scott Wedman and Parish on the floor at the start of the second period. McHale scored seven in six minutes and the shock troops were able to hold the line.
Atlanta rookie Randy Wittman did what he does best - hit a couple of jumpers - as the Hawks fought to stay close. Jones brought Bird, Maxwell, and DJ back with 5:18 left. The Celtics led, 42-37. When Rickey Brown closed the gap to 45-43, Boston called time. During the pause, most of the Celts were distracted by breakdancer Hollywood Lightfoot, who was wowing the Omni crowd. After the pause, Brown tied it with a followup. DJ put the Boston back on top with a three-point play, and a follow of Henderson's missed fast-break layup. When Maxwell beat the 24-second clock with a post-up bucket at th close of the quarter, the Celtics' lead was back to five for intermission.