1984 NBA Finals Game 4
CELTICS STUN THE LAKERS IN OVERTIME TO TIE SERIES
June 7, 1984
Can't anyone on the Los Angeles Lakers perform under late-game pressure?
Apparently not, at least in this year's NBA championship series, which was tied at two games apiece last night at the Forum when the Boston Celtics took advantage of late Lakers errors to emerge with a dramatic 129-125 overtime victory.
The Lakers, who in Game 2 in Boston last week lost after guard Magic Johnson accidentally dribbled out the clock to set up an overtime, found a way to do it again last night, this time in front of 17,505 home-town partisans.
This time, the Lakers blew a five-point lead in regulation, allowing the Celtics to tie the game at 113-113, and then made a game-ending gaffe that iced the game for Boston.
"This is a game of mistakes," Lakers coach Pat Riley said. "This is a world of mistakes. Just look at the front page every day. There are mistakes everywhere. The ones that are made out there (on the floor) are magnified more. We are under a microscope, and that's the way things have to be."
The victory, set against a backdrop of frequent flareups of tempers during the game, restored the Celtics' home-court advantage, which they lost when Los Angeles won Game 1 in Boston Garden.
Game 5 will be played tomorrow night (9 p.m., Channel 10) at Boston Garden. Game 6 will be in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, and Game 7, if necessary, will be Tuesday night in Boston.
"There was a lot of pressure from the media saying it was all over," said Boston coach K.C. Jones. "Then they burn us by 30 (actually 33) in the first game (in Los Angeles). These guys hung in there and came back. That says a lot for them."
"If we made a lot of our free throws (the Lakers shot 25 for 39, 64.1 percent) and other things down the stretch, the things would not have come down to the last seconds as they did," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. "Now, they have regained the home-court advantage, and they should feel pretty good about that. . . .
"We didn't play badly, but we made the mistakes at the end. I think, right now, we are looking forward to going to Boston."
That anyone would even be discussing the possibility of a seven-game series would have seemed odd early in the game.
Not only did Los Angeles have a 14-point lead in the first half and a halftime lead of 10, but the Lakers also, behind Abdul-Jabbar's 32 points, still led the Celts by five, at 113-108, with 57 seconds to go.
But in that final minute, they let the Celtics off the hook, as they forced missed shots by Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, yet failed to get a rebound.
So Parish, who scored 25 points before fouling out in overtime, collected his own missed shot and, with 39 seconds to go in regulation, put the ball back in the hoop, was fouled by Abdul-Jabbar and made the free throw, drawing the Celtics to within two, at 113-111.
Still, it was the Lakers' game to win, and they probably would have, had the outside jump shot by Michael Cooper gone in.
Of course it didn't and, on the play, Abdul-Jabbar picked up his sixth personal foul, forcing him out of the game.
Larry Bird, who scored 29 points and brought down a game-high 21 rebounds, calmly stuck in two free throws to give the Celts a 113-113 tie with 16 seconds to go in the game.
Then, as he had in Game 2, when with 13 seconds to go he dribbled out the clock and set up the overtime, Magic Johnson again dribbled the final 16 seconds down to where he was forced to make a desperation pass to teammate James Worthy, who scored 30 points in the game on 14-for-17 shooting.
However, Parish calmly stepped into the passing lane, picked the ball off with 4 seconds to play and set up a final, desperation shot by Bird that fell away.
And thus it was that the Celtics went on to win another overtime, despite the absence of Parish, who fouled out quickly, and despite the presence of Worthy, who was to score nine of the Lakers' 12 overtime points.
"We made some crucial mistakes down the stretch that let them in it, and ultimately win the game," Worthy said. "This wasn't like the second game in Boston. But it was very similar. I'm extremely disappointed that we couldn't take advantage of the home court."
Magic Johnson, with 35 seconds to go, missed a pair of free throws with the score tied at 123. The misses loomed large when Bird, 18 seconds later, stuck a fallaway jumper from the right wing over Johnson's head to give the Celts a 125-123 lead.
Worthy then missed one of two foul shots with 10 seconds left, drawing the Lakers to within one point at 125-124, when the game could have been tied.
And the Celics got a pair of free throws from Dennis Johnson, also with 10 seconds left, to take a 127-124 lead.
With a timeout, the Lakers had 10 seconds to run a three-point play from halfcourt, where they brought the ball inbounds. But again they botched it.
Worthy, standing on the sideline, tried to make a cross-court pass to Johnson - a pass that not only was telegraphed but also was picked off by Boston reserve M. L. Carr, who streaked downcourt and made a layup with 4 seconds left.
That basket by the jubilant Carr put the Celts up by 129-124, and only a late free throw by Bob McAdoo gave the Lakers the final four-point margin.
The Lakers, as they had in Game 2, had this one all to themselves.
But, as they did in Game 2, they blew this one, too, and now head back to Boston, tied 2-2.