C's Win 12th Straight

January 1981



Tiny Archibald was called for two offensive fouls down the stretch, but then he turned around and sank two free throws himself to ice an 88-85 victory for the Celtics over the Clippers last night.

The victory was the 12th in a row for the Celtics and their eighth straight on the road. Robert Parish led the Celtic attack with 16 points (12 in the first quarter) and 8 rebounds. Larry Brid and Gerald Henderson chipped in 13 points apiece. The Clippers' Joe Bryant led all scorers with a season- high 22 points.

The large Sports Arena crowd got to see the Celtics at both their best and worst before the Bostonians walked off the floor in possession of a 50-46 halftime lead.

It appeared for the first 10 minutes that the Celtics were in for their easiest night of the trip. When Bird dropped in a three-pointer from the left corner with 2:31 remaining in the first period, the Celtics were sitting on a 25-12 lead and had just completed a 23-4 run covering 7:16. But two things happened at this point. The first was that Parish, who already had 12 points and two assists, went to the bench with his second personal foul. The second thing was that Bryant, the immortal Jellybean himelf, was gearing himself for 14 minutes of absolutely brilliant basketball.

It was Bryant more than anyone, or anything, who was responsible for the realtively good San Diego position at the half. Jelly scored 11 points on a variety of shots as the Clippers picked themselves off the floor at that 25-12 juncture to outscore the Celtics by an eye-popping 23-5 in the next seven minutes. Bryant would wind up with a game-high 15 at the half, including a hanging inside power move two seconds before the buzzer.

The Celtics had cruised to the big lead after a somewhat shaky start. The Clippers got off to a quick 8-2 lead behind the jump hooks of Swen Nater before the Celtics decided to start playing. After that it looked easy, as Boston forced the Clippers into numerous bad shots and took off on a transition game. Although the Celtics weren't fully capitalizing on the direct break itself, they were monsters on the offensive boards, scoring 8 of 10 points on second shots in one stretch. There were rumors that Clipper coach Paul Silas was thinking about activating himself and moving some bodies out there.

However, the Boston playtime ceased abruptly when Bryant picked his team up and shoved it back into the game. The lead was down to 25-18 at the period, and the Clips managed tp catch Boston at 33-30 on a left-corner upfake 3-point play by - who else? - Jelly. The lead peaked at 35-30 before the Celtics called time out and Bird replaced Cedric Maxwell in the lineup. Almost immediately things started to happen. Bird fed Henderson with a gorgeous lob pass. Bird pulled down a rebound and started a fast break that Henderson completed with a jumper. Henderson stole the ball and began another fast break, finished off by an artful Kevin McHale maneuver. Boom - six straight points in 37 seconds and a 36-35 Boston lead.

The Celtics hung on for the rest of the half, leading by margins ranging from 1 to 6 points, this last at 50-44 on a Bird-to-Chris Ford backdoor feed. Bird, incidentally, had 9 rebounds and 5 assists, which offset his 4-for-12 halftime shooting.

Henderson pitched in with 11 second-period points in one of his better recent performances.

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