April 9, 1988
Sure, the Nets treated the basketball like a dinner check from Maison Robert and their defense brought back memories of the Maginot Line.
But the Celtics' Green Team wasn't about to say "no" to the visitors' largesse last night at Boston Garden -- not after four days of taking their lumps in practice this week from the likes of Messrs. Bird, McHale and DJ.
Certainly not Fred Roberts, who got a poke in the eye in Thursday's scrimmage and wore protective goggles in a game last night for the first time.
Roberts took two stitches to close the wound and had a nasty-looking purple and red tattoo around his eye to show for it a day later.
"It was hard adjusting to the goggles the first couple of shots. I was pulling up short on them," said Roberts, who was named player of the game for the second time in two weeks.
By the time the Nets went down in their sea of 27 turnovers, it was New Jersey that was goggle-eyed -- in part because of Roberts' 6-for-10 shooting and 18 points.
He also had three assists, three steals and four rebounds to complete a solid two-way effort.
It was that kind of night for the Green Team, which logged mucho minutes and blew out the Nets in the second period (32-18), thanks mainly to 10 points each from Roberts and Jim Paxson and 8 from Brad Lohaus.
"We've been playing better as a unit," said Roberts, who was in a joking mood. "All except for Dirk Minniefield. He's really been struggling. He's a step slow and a foot too short . . . "
Given time for rebuttal, Minniefield, who had 6 points and dished out five assists, said, "Hey, Fred's my man. I'd never say things like that about him."
Yes, the Celtics' bench contributors were loose, and why not?
In the first half, the Green Team outscored New Jersey's subs, 32-4, while adding 14 points to the Celtics' 13-point first-quarter lead.
Lohaus (20 points, second to Larry Bird's game-high 21) said the Green Team was able to do it by simply running the Nets off the floor.
"They were a little tired, and we just exploded on them. And considering that Fred had to wear those goggles, he played a hell of a game. I've had to wear them before, and they're tough to get used to."
Minniefield, who said he was looking forward to playing last night after four days of practice, said his only worry was that the Celtics might be game-rusty.
That worry ended early in the second period when garbage time began.
"We got off to the good start and had the fresh legs," said Minniefield in reference to New Jersey playing its fifth game in seven days and having played at Atlanta Thursday night.
"All this week, we practiced hard against the first team, and I think that helped both units a lot," added Minniefield. "You just have to be ready when they call your number around here."
The Celtics were certainly ready, according to Nets forward Buck Williams. "Their intensity was very high and ours wasn't," said Williams, the only Net to score 20 points.
"Bird started it off, and the rest of the team caught on to his momentum. Everything we tried didn't work."