1984 NBA Finals Game 4
Celtics Clothesline Lakers in Game 4
We will begin with an admission.
The Celtics played badly in Game 3. They were lucky to win Game 2. They deserved to lose Game 1.
But the problems upon which the Lakers capitalized for a 33-point victory were not indicative of the character of this Celtics team.
That was the closest you were going to get to an apology for criticizing the Celtics after they played a good second half and won Game 4, 129-125, tying the series at 2-2. Becuase if it weren't for four steals (2 in each of Boston's victories) and three missed free throws in Game 4, the Lakers would have swept.
This was a close game that developed into a professional wrestling match when Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis while Rambis drove for a breakaway layup. Rambis landed on his back, and his eyes widened as he sat up and realized what had happened. He jumped up and threw himself in McHale's direction, only to be body-blocked into the stands by his teammate, James Worthy. Both teams ran to the scene, but a fight was averted. The Lakers led, 76-70, before the incident, but a Celtics' run cut the lead to two, 90-88, at the end of the quarter.
Later, Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were separated after Jabbar elbowed Bird's head.
And, in the first half, Bird had rear-blocked Michael Cooper into the stands during an inbounds.
The Celtics trailed by five in the final minute of regulation when Boston guard Dennis Johnson missed a drive. But center Robert Parish (25 points, 12 rebounds and a big heart) rebounded and was fouled following up his own miss. The three-pointer made it 113-111 with 39 seconds left.
Cooper missed a jumper, and Abdul-Jabbar fouled out as Parish grabbed the rebound. Bird (29 points and 21 rebounds) made the free throws for the tie at :16.
The ball went to LA guard Magic Johnson again for a chance to win. He wasted a few seconds and passed down the sideline to James Worthy, but Parish leaned in, one-handed it and called time with four seconds left.
DJ inbounded to Bird, whose 25-foot running fadeaway (if it goes in, make room, Jerry West) bounced right. McHale had time to jump for the rebound, land, and jump-tip a 5-footer. No good. Overtime.
After Parish fouled out, Celtic guard Gerald Henderson missed two free throws. But he stole the ball from McAdoo, was fouled, and made both for a 119-116 lead with 2:42 left.
Worthy (10 of LA's 12 OT points) scored twice for a one-point lead that DJ took back with two free throws. Worthy's three-point play was followed by a Bird score for a tie at 1:19.
DJ - guarding Magic Johnson this game for the first time and outplaying him - fouled Magic with 35 seconds left. He missed both free throws.
Bird hit a 16-foot turnaround with 16 seconds left for the lead. The Lakers automatically went to Worthy, who was fouled by McHale with 10 seconds remaining. M. L. Carr walked by him at the foul line.
"I told him the first free throw wasn't going down," Carr said, "and the second one may not either. He told me not to try and psyche him out."
The first free throw didn't go down. The second did. Cooper immediately fouled DJ (22 points), who made both free throws.
The Lakers still had a chance to tie it with a three-pointer, but these overtime games are tough on Worthy. He inbounded after the LA timeout, Carr stole it and dunked.
"If we made a lot of our free throws and other things down the stretch, then things would not have come down to the last seconds like they did," Abdul-Jabbar said.
And the series wouldn't have come down to the last three (or two?) games.
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