December 28, 1979
THREE-POINTERS POPULAR BREED
It was the Clippers vs. the Celtics at the San Diego Arena last night, but the possibility existed that the two teams might wind up reminding fans of the Chargers vs. the Patriots instead.
Specifically, the year could have been 1965 and the key matchup could have been Jack Kemp vs. Babe Parilli, for, just as the old AFL airwaves were so often filled with footballs, so are the airwaves filled with arching basketball shots when the Celtics and the Clippers take the floor.
The game pitted the two teams that have so far taken the biggest advantage of the three-point field-goal rule, and it also featured the league's two most prominent long-range marksmen - Brian Taylor, who leads in total three- pointers, and Chris Ford, who leads in three-point percentage.
The Clippers had attempted well over 200 three-pointers in their first 39 games, and the Celtics were the only team within 100 - yup, a hundred - of that total.
Taylor himself has attempted more three-pointers than any team in the league except Boston. His 4-for-5 long-range performance on Wednesday evening in Seattle left him with a 47-for-113 season's total. But Ford, who had connected for at least one three-pointer in 16 of his last 17 games, had a better percentage, having sunk 35 of 75 attempts for a .467 percentage, compared to Taylor's .416.
And each man has a strong accomplice. Freeman Williams is 16 for 41 (.391) for San Diego, while Larry Bird, who had hit on 8 of 11 three-point tries in his last six games, had climbed to 16 for 41, matching Williams.
Bird has been playing extremely well, as his totals for the previous 11 games will attest. Since emerging from a four-game shooting slump (18 for 59) in the last 11 games, Bird is averaging 23 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and shooting .495 from the floor. Moreover, he has increased his playing time while reducing his fouling, having committed only 10 personals in the last four games while averaging a shade under 40 minutes of playing time per game . . . Dave Cowens was seeking to break out of a rebound slump which had seen him grab only 28 in his previous five games. He hadn't come up with a double- figure rebounding effort since 14, when he pulled down 14 against Milwaukee, and he hadn't strung together back-to-back double-figure rebounding games since a three-game stretch (Dec. 9-14) when he had 11, 10 and the aforementioned 14, respectively.
San Diego is crowing about Sidney Wicks, who has settled into a nice groove out here. He starts opposite Bingo Smith at the big forward slot (the one he didn't want to play in Boston), and in his last four games has averaged 7.5 assists, including a season-high 10 Wednesday night in Seattle . . . Center Swen Nater, whose accomplishments included a 35-point, 22-rebound game against Utah, is the NBA player of the week . . . The Clippers, who won both games played here against Boston last year, are 14-8 at home and 5-12 on the road . . . A crowd in excess of 12,000 was expected at the 14,000-seat arena . . . Tonight's game with the Lakers at the Forum in Los Angeles is a super sellout, with even L.A. owner Dr. Jerry Buss in search of extra tickets. Channel 4 will televise the game, with Roger Twibell and Bob Cousy, at 11 p.m. and will carry tomorrow night's contest with the Warriors (also a sellout) at 11 p.m.