1984 NBA Finals Game 4An Uncommon Display of Pride and Passion
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Summary
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Media Coverage
As they have done so many times since Red Auerbach and William Felton Russell took charge during the Eisenhower Administration, the Boston Celtics came up with an uncommon display of pride and passion last night.
Playing on foreign floorboards, down by 2-1 in games and trailing by five points with less than a minute left in regulation, the Celtics forced an overtime, then conquered the Los Angeles Lakers, 129-125, in extra innings.
Larry Joe Bird (29 points, 21 rebounds) put the Celtics ahead to stay with a 15-foot turnaround over Magic Johnson with 16 seconds left. Two clutch free throws by Dennis Johnson (22 points, 14 assists) provided a cushion, and Mr. Motivation, M.L. Carr, drove the final stake into the Lakers with a breakaway steal and dunk.
The megaseries is tied, 2-2. Imagine that? After four days of abuse and agony, the Celtics are coming home with heads high, chests out and a reasonable shot at flag No. 15.
"We wanted it so badly and did exactly what it took," said Cedric Maxwell. "People had buried us and said we were dead. They said we didn't have any character, but I think we showed what we are made of tonight."
After Sunday's 33-point dismemberment, the Celtics had been biting their tongues in silent fury while the Lakers were compared with the '67 Sixers and the 1976 Taiwan Little Leaguers.
Finally given a chance for redemption, Boston dismissed Sunday's exaggerated beating with 53 minutes of Eastern Conference slamdancing. How else can you win a game in which you are outshot, 59 percent to 43 percent?
Much-maligned DJ had started Boston's overtime with a 15-footer. After James Worthy tied it from the right baseline, DJ tapped in a Bird bomb, and it was 117-115.
Then Robert Parish, who came back with enormous heart in this game, left with his sixth personal foul. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was already gone.
After missing two free throws, Gerald Henderson stole from Bob McAdoo and made a pair from the line to give the Celtics a 119-116 lead with 2:42 left.
Scary Worthy (14 of 17, 30 points) scored over Bird, rebounded a Kevin McHale miss and scored on a pretty turnaround to put the Lakers back in the lead.
With 1:47 left, DJ was fouled and made both to put Boston ahead, 121-120.
Hello, James. Worthy took a pass from Magic (20 points, 17 assists, 11 rebounds and what else is new?) and threaded between three Celtics defenders. He scored as he was fouled, then made the free throw.
Bird hit from underneath to tie it at 123-123 with 1:19 left. Both teams missed their next opportunity, and with 35 seconds left, Magic was fouled by DJ. Magic went to the line and missed both, as LA missed five of nine free throws in overtime.
Bird rebounded Magic's second miss and called time. After the pause, Bird put the Celtics ahead for good (125-123) with his turnaround.
Michael Cooper inbounded to McAdoo, McAdoo got it to Worthy, and Worthy was fouled by McHale with 10 seconds left. His first shot was short. Taunting Worthy, Maxwell went to his throat. St. James' second shot went in. The clock never moved as Cooper fouled Dennis Johnson. DJ calmly made both, and the Lakers called time.
Was DJ worried about the free throws?
"Not a bit," said the Celtics guard. "Today is my son Dwayne's fourth birthday. I hit 'em for him."
Carr put it away, stealing Worthy's inbounds pass and going in for a dunk that made it 129-124 with six seconds to play. A McAdoo free throw rounded out the scoring.
"I was faking toward the baseline, but committed in my mind to go toward the pass," said Carr. "I'm the guy that wrote the word aggressive' on the board. I was aggressive on that play."
But before all that, the Celtics had to come back from a five-point deficit in the final minute of regulation. First, DJ missed on a drive, but the heroic Parish fought off four guys, got the rebound and was fouled as he followed up his own miss. The three-point play cut it to 113-111 with 39 seconds to play.
Parish (25 points, 12 rebounds) refused to discuss anything after the game, but Maxwell said, "That was a great play. With all the negative stuff going on around him, that just shows you the kind of player he is."
"That brought them within two and gave them a life," said Lakers coach Pat Riley. "It brought them to another level."
The Lakers came down and settled for a Cooper jumper from out top. As Parish grabbed the rebound, Abdul-Jabbar (32 points) was tagged with his sixth personal. Kareem and the Lakers didn't see the foul. Bird went to the line and tied it (113-113) with two free throws with 16 seconds left.
After another timeout, Cooper inbounded to Kurt Rambis, who passed to Magic. Magic fiddled for several seconds. When he finally passed to Worthy, Parish one-handed it, snagged the ball and called time with four seconds left. It was reminiscent of Game 2, in which Magic failed to get a shot off in the closing seconds of a tied game.
Boston almost won it in regulation. DJ inbounded to Bird, who took an outrageous leaner that came off to the right, into the hands of McHale. McHale's shot would have counted, but lipped the rim and fell off to the left. Overtime.
Riley, for one, thought the game turned around when the Celtics started some roughhouse stuff in the third quarter.
After trailing by 14 in the first half and 10 at intermission, Gerald Henderson (11 in the third quarter) brought the Celtics back. The first ugliness of the series surfaced when Boston cut LA's lead to six (76-70) midway through the third. After taking a pass from Worthy, Rambis was fast- breaking in from the right wing when McHale and Henderson came from the other side and attempted to separate Rambis from his glasses. Rambis got off the floor and went at McHale. Meanwhile, Cooper and Henderson had something going in the corner. Both benches emptied. Nobody was tossed, but before it was over, Bird and Cooper were nose-to-nose.
"The game changed after that," said Riley.
A minute and a half later, Bird and Kareem had to be restrained from going at one another.
"They came out and established the type of game it was going to be," said Cooper.
It was 90-88 at the end of three. Boston led by three with 5:24 left, but the Lakers roared back with eight in a row: a Magic layup, a Worthy fast-break jam, a McAdoo jumper and a Kareem dunk off an alley-oop pass from Magic. Meanwhile, the Celtics were getting four straight long misses from Bird, Ainge and Henderson (twice).
Down, 109-104, Bird followed a DJ miss to cut it to three. Kareem's shot was blocked by Bird, but DJ couldn't convert on the break (Magic got back), and a jumper by Cooper made it 111-106 with 1:57 left.
Bird cut it to three again with a pair of free throws with 1:43 showing. After two timeouts, Worthy grabbed a big rebound of a Kareem miss. Magic was fouled and made two to make it 113-108 with 56 seconds left. Then came the big Celtics comeback.