CELTICS SLOPPY (94), PISTONS WORSE (85)
The Celtics defeated the Pistons, 94-85, in a drab basketball game at the Silverdome last night that was highlighted by water dripping through the roof from melting snow. The leaks caused a half-hour delay in the start.
A mark of exactly how dreary the first half of this languid contest was: it took the Celtics seven minutes and eight seconds to score 16 unanswered points against the Pistons in the first period.
There wasn't much more of interest happening in this game as the Celtics took a 43-35 lead into the locker room, courtesy of a buzzer-beating fast break dunk by Bird, who took a good feed from Archibald after Keith Herron had missed a three-point attempt.
Boston's 16 straight first-period points had given the visitors a 20-8 lead and a chance to put the Detroits away early. But the Pistons resurrected themselves in the final 2:57 of the opening period, as well as in the first 1:42 of the second quarter, running off a 13-2 spurt of their own which brought them within one at 22-21. They came within a point at 24-23, 26-25 and 28-27 before the Celtics gradually built up a modest advantage when the Pistons' offense again floundered.
Kevin McHale had taken Cedric Maxwell's place in the starting lineup, but he picked up three personals in the first 10:04 and had to be replaced by Eric Fernsten. At one point in the second quarter the Celtics fielded a front line of Rick Robey, Bird and Fernsten, a triumvurate not to be confused with Jesse Owens, Bob Hayes and Harry Jerome. However, the Pistons were unable to exploit any potential advantage they might have had.
The Celtics asserted themselves inside from the outset, scoring six of their first eight points on the offensive boards and racking up 10 second- chance points in the opening period, which ended with them in possession of a 22-15 lead. They would have built up a better margin had Parish been able to make more of his innumerable inside scoring opportunities.-
The Celtics entered last night's game without Cedric Maxwell, a hemorrhoid sufferer, but they weren't about to receive any sympathy from the Pistons. They had neither the services of high scorer John Long (strained ligaments in his left knee) nor starting center Kent Benson (severe groin pull). In nine of the last 11 games, the Pistons had been unable to dress the full complement of 11 people . . . Despite their adversity, however, the Pistons have been playing good basketball, having won four of their last five games . . . Among the individual reasons for the recent success of the team is the play of guard Keith Herron and forward Phil Hubbard. The former has averaged 19.3 ppg in his previous six games, and has been in double figures in 15 of his last 18 games, including the last 11 in a row. The ex-Villanova swingman even posted a 48- minute game . . . Hubbard, meanwhile, has scored at a 21.2 clip during those five games. He also averaged 12 rebounds a game, while shooting 53 percent (34-64) from the floor.