December 17, 1979
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - When a team can overcome a performance like Mike Newlin's, a team must surely be good and starstruck at the same time. The Nets' backcourtman threw in a career-high, and NBA season-high, of 52 points last night, but it could not prevent the Celtics from flying home through the fog with a 115-112 overtime triumph in their possession.
The victory was Boston's third straight three-point victory in three nights, the last two on the road and the final a bizarre struggle which saw the Celtics lead by 10 points with 8:51 left in regulation, trail by five (115-110) with 1:58 remaining in overtime and succeed in forcing an overtime only when M.L. Carr capped a bizarre final 23 seconds of the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws with two seconds left.
How Carr wound up there was a matter of debate, but this is a brief summation: Trailing, 104-102, after two Newlin foul shots with 23 seconds left (the result of a typically chintzy call by Tom Nunez), Boston appeared to be en route to deafeat when a Dave Cowens jumper bounced off the rim and out of bounds with seven seconds left.
But on the New Jersey inbounds pass from midcourt, Newlin became separated from the ball (choked, said the Nets; cleverly stripped, said the Celtics). Boston regained possession and a streaking Carr was fouled while barely in possession of the ball in the lane and was awarded two shots. "I'd like to be shooting those fouls with two good wrists," said Carr, "but this was tough."