1984 NBA Finals Game 6Celtics Almost Win in 6, But Lakers Rally from Behind
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Summary
Larry v. Magic: Game-by-Game Media Coverage
The Celtics smelled champagne. Red Auerbach had a telephone pole-sized stogie begging to be lighted.
And then the Lakers showed what they are made of.
After watching their great center vomit before game time (a Bill Russell chapter from the book of Celtic folklore), then falling behind by 11 points in the third quarter, the Lakers outscored Boston, 30-10, then cruised to a 119-108 victory in Game 6 of the NBA finals.
The cataclysmic Game 7 is tomorrow night in the Boston Garden, and hoop historians from around the globe have been summoned to evaluate and determine if this might be the NBA's finest hour.
Boston fans will cringe when they think of yesterday's giveaway, but it seems as if this special series deserves a seventh game. Who knows? Maybe it'll go nine games. Or 11. Is it possible that the Celtics and Lakers could play every other day from now 'til Labor Day without a clear winner emerging?
The Celtics had Bostonians planning a Tuesday parade when they broke to an 84-73 lead yesterday. Then the big chill struck. Larry Bird (28 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists) stopped getting the ball, Boston missed seven straight shots, and Byron Scott and James Worthy (20 points) led a ferocious Laker charge.
Try this: LA held the Celtics to two field goals in 12 minutes, 57 seconds and outscored the Celtics, 36-12, over a stretch of 15 1/2 minutes.
"You hear a lot about Celtic tradition and Celtic pride," said LA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (30 points, 10 rebounds, one migraine, several trips to the upchuck trough). "We have some proud athletes, too. They're not the only team with pride.
The Celtics had proved their machismo in two overtime wins and Friday night's Summer-in-the-City blowout. Meanwhile, folks were suggesting that the Lakers be moved to the Philippines and renamed the Manila Folders.
Yesterday's first 31 minutes offered no hint of hope for LA. It was Boston's game. Gerald Henderson (22 points) and Dennis Johnson (20) buried one long jumper after another. Meanwhile, Bird fought his way to 17 points and 10 rebounds in the first half, and the Celtics closed with a 7-0 run and a 65-58 lead.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the first half came when Worthy dealt Cedric Maxwell a Jack Tatum shot as Max tried to score on a break. Instead, Maxwell was pushed into the support post and came up swinging. He was restrained, but the Laker message was clear.
"They do it to us, they've got to expect something back," said Worthy. "They've been verbally abusing us, and Maxwell made the choke sign (toward Worthy during Game 4). That's not professional."
The Lakers got bad news at halftime when it was learned that Bob McAdoo would not be able to play any more due to an injured Achilles tendon.
Boston's best basketball of the day came at the start of the second half. From 71-69, the Celtics ripped off 10 in a row. After Abdul-Jabbar interrupted the break with a tap-in, DJ hit a transition jumper and it was 84-73 with five minutes left in the third.
"We had the game," noted Henderson. "We just gave it to 'em."
Things started to happen for LA when rookie Scott replaced Magic Johnson (21 points, 10 assists). Scott was on the floor with Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes, Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy.
First, Scott scored on a second-chance shot. Boston's next three possessions yielded a DJ turnover and missed shots by Maxwell, Henderson and McHale (two taps). LA responded to each with a fast-break basket - one by Scott, two by Worthy.
When Wilkes hit a jumper after Cooper rebounded a DJ miss, it made it 10 straight and cut the margin to 84-83. It looked like the Celtics were panicking when Danny Ainge tossed up a pathetic airball. LA could not convert after Ainge's mistake, and Max broke the scoreless run with one of two from the line.
Bird hardly touched the ball while the Lakers were surging, and he was somewhat upset afterward.
"My own teammates just wouldn't give me the ball," said Boston's MVP. "I would have loved to have had the ball when we were up by 11 points. I know I could have made something happen."
Boston's lead was trimmed to 87-83 at the end of three. LA opened the fourth with eight straight, and the Celtics never led again.
Worthy started the final quarter with a power drive and two free throws. After a TV timeout, Scott stole a Bird inbounds pass and broke downcourt for a layup. Then Robert Parish missed, Kurt Rambis scored on a fast-break followup and it was 91-87.
Boston tied it twice, but at 93-93, Scott buried a three-pointer. That brought out Dancing Barry and started a 10-1 run that thrust LA into the comfort zone. Cooper, Worthy and Scott kept the Celtics under the Lakers thumb for the rest of the day.