K.C. Jones was the best basketball coach on the planet yesterday. While Riley inexplicably buried Maurice Lucas (six minutes, none in the second half), Jones went to his second unit and found ways to build a lead with folks named Jerry Sichting, Rick Carlisle and David Thirdkill on the floor. Boston's coach could not miss.
The Celtics' outside shooters were equally torrid. With McHale on the shelf and Parish in foul trouble, the Celtics abandoned their post-up game and kicked the ball around for a succession of wide-open jumpers. DJ (23 points), Scott Wedman, Sichting and Carlisle made LA pay for its sagging defense.
"They do a lot of doubling down low," said Sichting, who drilled four jumpers in the first half. "They gamble and leave guys open. If you've got good ball movement, and you're careful with your passing, you can exploit that."
DJ carried the Celtics in the first quarter. Parish went out after picking up his second foul in the sixth minute, but DJ scored 12 points and gave Boston a 30-29 lead with a short jumper at the end of the period. LA never led the rest of the way.
Carlisle (10 points in 11 minutes) and Wedman shot the Celtics to a five- point lead early in the second. Parish played less than two minutes of the period before picking up his third foul, but it didn't matter. Walton (10 points, 7 rebounds in 26 minutes) was there.
A flurry of ugly incidents marred the second period. First, Byron Scott cracked Sichting wih a forearm shiver. Scott picked up a technical. Then Greg Kite bear-hugged Mike McGee as McGee attempted a layup. James Worthy and Magic gave Kite some lip service before things calmed down.
"It didn't surprise me," said the ever-persecuted Abdul-Jabbar. "They're known as a cheap-shot team."
A buzzer-beating tap-in by Bird gave Boston a 58-55 halftime lead.
DJ (the sport's best big-game guard?) drove the visitors to a 71-59 lead early in the third before Parish picked up two fouls in four seconds and returned to the bench. The Celts closed the quarter with four subs on the floor, and took an 86-80 lead on a three-point play by Thirdkill.
Everything worked for Boston. By the time the fourth quarter started, it was obvious that the dazzling Worthy (35 points) was LA's only offensive threat. Abdul-Jabbar (only two points in the final period) was unable to do anything with Walton, and failed to exploit Parish when the Chief finally reappeared.
Boston led by 10 after Carlisle swished a hideous shot-clock-beating fallaway from the left corner. "It would have been a three-pointer, but my feet are too big (15 1/2) for me to be outside the three-point line and still stay inbounds," joked Carlisle. "I learned the shot from DJ."
LA trimmed the lead to four (100-96) with 3:52 left, but DJ answered with a line-drive jumper from the right corner. Then the Lakers decomposed. They missed 10 consecutive shots, turned it over twice and failed to inbound within five seconds. Is it any wonder that the Forum front-runners fled?
"There's no excuse," said Magic. "They are the better team right now. We've got to get our game together before the play-offs, but right now Boston is a much better team."