November 10, 1980
The Celtics saw a 14-point fourth-period lead dwindle to 3, but two big plays by Cedric Maxwell keyed a final burst that carried Boston to a 111-105 triumph over the Chicago Bulls last night.
The Civic Center crowd of 8627 was scared when a driving fast-break layup by Larry Kenon brought the aggressive visitors to within three at 105-102. The Celtics had ridden a 15-0 run launched late in the third period to a 94-80 advantage 14 seconds into the final period, but the Bulls did not fold, and got back in the game mainly due to the efforts of guard Reggie Theus, who led all scorers with 28 and had nine rebounds.
But that three-point incursion was as close as the Bulls would come. For Maxwell first picked off the rebound of a Larry Bird left-corner miss and found himself shoved out of bounds by Artis Gilmore. Max climaxed the subsequent Boston possession by driving the lane for a key basket. Theus air- balled a three-pointer, leading to a clinching basket by Kevin McHale, who dunked a nice pass provided by Bird out of a well-executed four-corner spread offense.
The Celtics were in trouble late in the third period when the Bulls battled ahead by a point on three occasions. But the Celtics suddenly exploded when starting centers Gilmore and Robert Parish were replaced by Dwight Jones and Rick Robey at the 3:24 mark with the Bulls leading by an 80-79 score. Robey and Bird (19 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) sparked a period-ending 13-point run that put Chicago into a hole from which it simply could not recover.
The Celtics got great production from the center spot, as the triumvurate of Parish (22), Robey (13) and McHale (4 as a center) accounted for 39 points in the middle.
Defense was hardly the watchword in the first half as the Celtics assumed a 61-56 lead.
The Celts never trailed after breaking an early 4-4 deadlock with a quick run of six straight points, but they were never able to put away the Bulls, either, despite appearing to dominate play for the entire half. The clincher came when Theus, a big Chicago man with 15 in the half, drilled in a three- pointer at the buzzer to offset a Wayne Kreklow fast-break goaltended drive that should have given the Celts an eight-point halftime lead.
The Celts got big first periods from both Parish and Bird as they moved to a 37-29 one-quarter advantage. The big center mixed his hook and his arching turnaround well to score 14 points, while Bird dropped in his first five shots (four jumpers and a game-opening running lefthand hook, and all honest-to- God swishers) en route to a 12-point period. He also had the honor of adding point No. 13 at the start of the second quarter when he made one of two technical fouls whistled against the Bulls in the half.
Once again, turnovers hurt the Celtics' chances of attaining daylight in a game in which they were the aggressors at both ends. They found themselves with four different 10-point leads in the second quarter, but on each occasion they kicked the ball away a few times instead of getting the lead up in the mid-teen range.
Chicago did very well on the offensive boards in the half, which should come as no surprise since the Bulls start a 7-2, 6-10, 6-9 front line and come off the bench with another pair of 6-10s. The Bulls had seven points on second shots in the first quarter and 10 in the second, as opposed to Boston's first- half total of five.
The teams did some fancy shooting, especially in the first period. The Bulls canned 52 percent of their shots (13 for 25), but that looked modest in comparison to Boston's total of 61 percent (14 for 23). Many of these shots were long jumpers, and all it demonstrated was the remarkable skills of these immense people. In case you didn't know, the Bulls also start a backcourt that goes 6-6 and 6-7. In fact, the smallest player on their roster is 6-3 Ricky Sobers, who in addition to being skilled is very mean.