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6.06.2010

1984 NBA Finals: Celtics Run Out of Building in Game 3

Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Summary

Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Media Coverage

The easiest eway to break bad news is just to say it. So. . .Los Angeles 137, Boston 104.

This was a breakdown in the social fabric. We're talking about bra-burning and draft-card burning and even the burning down of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's uninsured mansion.

LA's playoff record 47 third-quarter points outscored Boston's first half (46). The Lakers outrebounded Boston, 64-44, and scored 58 points (only four on jump shots0 while converting 28 of 32 fast breaks.

"It's a great feeling when you're running like that, because you feel like you can't be stopped," said LA guard Magic Johnson, whose 21 assists tied a championship series record (and, with 14 points and 11 rebounds, had his fourth playoff triple-double). "When we can make 'em turn it over or take a shot they didn't want to take, we're gone."

So, it appeared, were the Celtics. Maybe they belonged in the championship series, but they didn't belong in a series with the Lakers. It was time to look at this team objectively, based upon the three championship series games. Robert Parish (3 of 9 for 9 points) was a star when it came to winning the best regular season record but apparently wasn't the same player when it was time to win a championship. The business with his shoulder therapy before Game 1 was a mystery.

Larry Bird was being outmatched by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy.

The guards couldn't hit. Dennis Johnson was admittedly not a shooting guard, but he was being required to shoot. He drew his pride in his defense. Since coach K.C. Jones still wasn't letting him guard Magic regularly, DJ was a dour man, playing only 14 minutes in Game 3, during which his team was outscored, 48-16. Former Celtic player and coach Tom Heinsohn told a national TV audience he questioned whether DJ was "a Celtic."

"We played like sissies," said Bird (30 points, but only 10 assists in the three games). "I know the heart and soul of this team, and today the heart wasn't there, that's for sure. I can't believe a team like this would let LA come out and push us around like they did. Today I didn't feel we played hard. We got beat bad, and it's very embarrassing."

LA led, 18-4, in the first six minutes, but Bird scored 12 in the first quarter to bring Boston back to 29-26 after one. The backcourt of Scott Wedman and Quinn Buckner actually led the Celtics to a five-point advantage - 40-35 - with 7:20 left in the half.

In the next 5 1/2 minutes, LA scored 18 straight as the Celtics missed 10 shots, committed five turnovers and an offensive foul without scoring in 13 possessions. So it was 57-46 at the half and 104-79 going into the fourth when the 10th through 12th players got their names in the boxscore. LA's 11 straight points at the end assured Boston of its worst championship playoff defeat.

"There is no excuse in the world when you get beat by 33 points," said Cedric Maxwell. "You can always be outrun and outshot and outrebounded, but to basically be outhustled and not have the heart is not a geniune Celtic characteristic."

Two more losses and the series would be over. The only hope was that the Celtics could at least fight courageously to the end.

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