Clutch Defense was the Difference

October 23, 1980

Why games are won or lost always depends on your perspective. The Celtics feel they beat the Nets last night because they came up with some good defensive plays in the clutch, and because they simply displayed more general poise than they had been able to muster in either Atlanta or Indianapolis.

Now ask Mike Newlin why the Nets failed to win. The answer is a bit different. "Boston didn't win," analyzed the veteran guard. "We lost it. The Celtics are traditionally a team of fundamentalists. I can think of about eight fundamental things we didn't do. We didn't box out on the boards, we didn't run the fast break right and we didn't execute a play properly at the end. That's how you win close games, by paying attention to the fundamentals. I've been in a lot of losing games in my career, but this one really makes me mad. Maybe it's because I wanted this one in honor of Bob MacKinnon (Nets' assistant), a "Win-One-For-The-Gipper" thing; I don't know. But I really wanted to win this one."

MacKinnon was not with the team because of a family tragedy. The popular assistant coach, who worked in Boston during the 1978-79 season, was in Buffalo making funeral arrangements for his 23-year-old daughter, Pamela, who was struck by an automobile and killed while riding a bicycle in Dallas on Tuesday evening. She had recently settled in the Texas city.- Kevin Loughery felt the difference in the game was Boston's ability to control the offensive boards in the final period. The Celtics got six second-chance points and managed to control the ball for 59 seconds in the span freom 2:03 to 1:09 while leading by a 106-102 score . . . New Jersey only scored on one of eight fast break attempts in the third period, a brutal quarter in which neither team scored from the floor in the final 3:10. The Celtics were outscored from the line n this stretch by an 8-7 margin. Boston committed four consecutive non-shooting fouls while in the bonus to simply hand points to the Nets. . . Larry Bird came out firing, connecting on his first five shots (two jumpers, a lay-up, a short banker on the break and a running left hand hook) and seven of eight in the opening period. "I'm tired of talking about my back," he said. "I just wanted to come out and get in the game."- Bird has revealed that he has a sciatic nerve condition that has affected his back and legs. The Nets now are wondering how they can apply for one . . . The Celtics had 29 fast-break points in the first three periods, but none in the final quarter . . . Chris Ford, of all people, picked up a technical . . . This brief jaunt will end in Hartford tonight when the Celtics play New York in a 7:30 affair (Ch. 4, WBZ) . . . McHale on playing the period: "I looked up once around the five or six minute mark and thought that coach Fitch must really have confidence in me to have me get out here now."


FLCeltsFan said...

Good stuff. In my opinion, it's always the defense.

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