1984 NBA Finals
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Summary
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Media Coverage
It was a finish filled with heart-pounding thrills worthy of a championship series. But it was lacking in championship caliber basketball.
Helped by four Laker mistakes, Boston survived its own errors to erase deficits in the last 20 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime. That victory will make today's flight to Los Angeles "a little easier," said Celtic hero Scott Wedman.
Boston's 124-121 victory here Thursday night evened the best-ofseven final round, 1-1, with Games Three and Four in Los Angeles Sunday and Wednesday night.
The major miscues began with 20 seconds left in regulation time and the Lakers leading 113-111. At that point, Kevin McHale missed two free throws for Boston, which had squandered a 13point first-half lead.
"You want to help the guy and say O'it's all right,' but really, you feel, O'Charlie Brown, you blockhead,' " said Celtic forward Cedric Maxwell.
After a timeout, the Lakers' James Worthy marred a game-high 29-point performance when he lofted a poor cross-court pass. It was picked off dramatically by Gerald Henderson, who streaked in for a game-tying layup.
"I never thought we'd turn it over," said Los Angeles' floor leader Earvin ''Magic" Johnson. "We let it slip out of our hands. But we'll be back Sunday."
The Lakers' second mistake came when Johnson, facing a strong defensive effort, dribbled the ball too long before the buzzer in regulation and they were unable to get off a shot.
In overtime, Wedman's jumper from the left baseline put Boston on top 122-121 with 14 seconds to play. The ball then went to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had it slapped away by Boston center Robert Parish. But the Celtics lost that opportunity when the ball went out of bounds off Larry Bird with 8 seconds to go.
The next time, the ball went to Bob McAdoo. Again, the Lakers couldn't hold on as Parish knocked it loose. Bird picked it up, was fouled, and made two free throws to end the scoring and finish with a team-high 27 points.
"We did play great team defense, and that's what it's going to take to beat the Lakers," said Henderson.
"We had a chance but didn't execute," said Abdul-Jabbar, whose 20 points gave him exactly 4,000 playoff points in his career. Former Laker Jerry West, with 4,457 points, is the only other player to reach that milestone.
"We played hard but we didn't play well," said Bird. "They had just as good an opportunity as we did, but we can't play 15 minutes of good basketball and expect to win."
Was Maxwell surprised by all the miscues?
"Not when you're playing with this much intensity and that much on the line," he said. The end "was like being on death row, waiting for time to tick down, tick down, and waiting for the governor's reprieve."
Laker Coach Pat Riley expects the intensity to continue.
"All the games are going to be competitive," he said. "It's what everyone wanted and it's what everyone is going to get."
The Celtics cringed at the idea of becoming the only team in 37 years of NBA championship series to drop the first two games at home. Now they go to Los Angeles with renewed spirit.
"We're going to be very confident knowing L.A. doesn't play well at home," said Henderson. "If we can go in and get one game -- we're going for two -- but if we can get one we'll be OK."
A split would restore the homecourt advantage for Boston, where Game Five will be next Friday night.
Los Angeles had only the 13th best home record in the NBA's regular season, while Boston was the top road team. But the Lakers are 7-1 at home in the playoffs.