Larry v. Magic: Game 24
Celtics Stifle Magic, Dominate Lakers in LA
February 17, 1986
CELTICS LEAVE LAKERS PINING, 105-99 BOSTON'S BENCH HELPS TO UNSEAT THE CHAMPS AGAIN
The Celtics spoiled Sunday brunch at the Forum Club yesterday. Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson and an impressive quintet of green pine brothers drove Boston to a 105-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
This was no blowout, but neither was there much doubt about which team would win. Stretch limos burned little midday oil waiting for disgusted, high- rolling cargo to give up. The Lakers never led after the first quarter and the Forum was virtually empty when the final buzzer sounded.
Afterward, the Celtics and Lakers pledged to renew their private party this spring, but dismissed the future impact of Boston's 2-0 regular-season sweep.
"I don't think anyone will remember," insisted dry-cleaned Laker coach Pat Riley. "I swear, I won't pull out the box score in May or June, if we're there then."
"This is my seventh year, and winning the season series hasn't mattered yet," added Bird (22 points, a season-high 18 rebounds, 7 assists).
OK, never mind the future. What about now?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar admitted, "It was an important game for us to have won. If we had, it would have proved we were on a par with them. Now there is no reason for anyone to perceive us as a favorite."
- The Celtics are 20-2 since Christmas while the Lakers are 15-10.
- Three and a half weeks after beating the Lakers by 15 in Boston (having led by 23 in the fourth quarter), the Celtics beat LA in the Forum without Kevin McHale.
- LA has not scored 100 points against Boston this season. The Lakers have cracked the century mark in 46 of their other 50 games.
- Magic Johnson did not score a basket yesterday. He didn't have a rebound when LA played in Boston. He has averaged only 10.5 points and 3 rebounds against Boston this year.
- The Celtics outrebounded LA by 16 in two games.
- Abdul-Jabbar scored 23 yesterday, but was unable to exploit a foul- plagued Robert Parish (23 minutes), and again appeared very much intimidated by Mr. Bill Walton.
- The Lakers scored only 12 fast-break points yesterday.
- Boston's bench outscored the Laker subs, 62-53, in two games.
K.C. Jones was the best basketball coach on the planet yesterday. While Riley inexplicably buried Maurice Lucas (six minutes, none in the second half), Jones went to his second unit and found ways to build a lead with folks named Jerry Sichting, Rick Carlisle and David Thirdkill on the floor. Boston's coach could not miss.
The Celtics' outside shooters were equally torrid. With McHale on the shelf and Parish in foul trouble, the Celtics abandoned their post-up game and kicked the ball around for a succession of wide-open jumpers. DJ (23 points), Scott Wedman, Sichting and Carlisle made LA pay for its sagging defense.
"They do a lot of doubling down low," said Sichting, who drilled four jumpers in the first half. "They gamble and leave guys open. If you've got good ball movement, and you're careful with your passing, you can exploit that."
DJ carried the Celtics in the first quarter. Parish went out after picking up his second foul in the sixth minute, but DJ scored 12 points and gave Boston a 30-29 lead with a short jumper at the end of the period. LA never led the rest of the way.
Carlisle (10 points in 11 minutes) and Wedman shot the Celtics to a five- point lead early in the second. Parish played less than two minutes of the period before picking up his third foul, but it didn't matter. Walton (10 points, 7 rebounds in 26 minutes) was there.
A flurry of ugly incidents marred the second period. First, Byron Scott cracked Sichting wih a forearm shiver. Scott picked up a technical. Then Greg Kite bear-hugged Mike McGee as McGee attempted a layup. James Worthy and Magic gave Kite some lip service before things calmed down.
"It didn't surprise me," said the ever-persecuted Abdul-Jabbar. "They're known as a cheap-shot team."
A buzzer-beating tap-in by Bird gave Boston a 58-55 halftime lead.
DJ (the sport's best big-game guard?) drove the visitors to a 71-59 lead early in the third before Parish picked up two fouls in four seconds and returned to the bench. The Celts closed the quarter with four subs on the floor, and took an 86-80 lead on a three-point play by Thirdkill.
Everything worked for Boston. By the time the fourth quarter started, it was obvious that the dazzling Worthy (35 points) was LA's only offensive threat. Abdul-Jabbar (only two points in the final period) was unable to do anything with Walton, and failed to exploit Parish when the Chief finally reappeared.
Boston led by 10 after Carlisle swished a hideous shot-clock-beating fallaway from the left corner. "It would have been a three-pointer, but my feet are too big (15 1/2) for me to be outside the three-point line and still stay inbounds," joked Carlisle. "I learned the shot from DJ."
LA trimmed the lead to four (100-96) with 3:52 left, but DJ answered with a line-drive jumper from the right corner. Then the Lakers decomposed. They missed 10 consecutive shots, turned it over twice and failed to inbound within five seconds. Is it any wonder that the Forum front-runners fled?
"There's no excuse," said Magic. "They are the better team right now. We've got to get our game together before the play-offs, but right now Boston is a much better team."
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