C's Make It 7-Straight Behind All-Around Brilliant Play from Parish (80-81)

January 17, 1981


If Robert Parish doesn't wind up on the NBA All-Star team, there ought to be an investigation. There might not be another center in the entire league playing at his level - and certainly no one is at the level he was flying in the second half last night.

You can talk all you want about the different ways the Celtics can beat you on any given night. Larry Bird, Tiny Archibald, Chris Ford. They all have their pluses. But the main reason Boston was able to extend its winning streak to seven games and hand the San Antonio Spurs a 94-85 defeat was the brilliant all-around play of Parish, who coach Bill Fitch said played his finest game yet as a Celtic.

"He was a force out there," said Fitch. "And he played one of the outstanding halves seen around here in a long time. Offensively, he was great, and don't overlook the defense."

Actually, don't overlook anything that Parish did last night. His 29 points and 16 rebounds would be a night's work under most circumstances, but there also were his 3 steals and 4 blocked shots. In short, the Celtics turned loose a guy who was so devastating inside that he brought a wide smile to the face of another old Celtic center sitting behind Red Auerbach in the stands - Bill Russell.

"What more can you say about the man that hasn't already been said?" said Ford. "Tonight he was devastating. He was an intimidator on defense and the man we went to on offense when things really got tough. He got the ball when he wanted it and where he wanted it, and there was nothing that San Antonio could do about it. He's just playing great."

Before you start to say, "I've heard this rhetoric before about Parish," a little perspective is in order. The San Antonio team that Parish and friends beat last night was not the old run-and-gun edition of the Spurs. George Gervin only had 17 points on an 8-for-24 night. James Silas went only 1 for 7, and the San Antonio starting lineup was 13 for 50 from the floor. The Spurs have inside muscle these days, and even brought Boston's running game to a standstill for a time.

The Celtics were twice able to withstand strong comebacks by San Antonio after building up leads of 18 points. Boston led, 34-16, in the first period, but only 54-46 at halftime. The Spurs, who scored a season-low 12 points in the third period, once trailed by a 68-50 count in the third period, yet were within three points, 74-71, with 8:53 to play.

Both comebacks were the result of the strong bench of the Spurs. Guards Ron Brewer and rookie Johnny Moore came off the bench, and their fast breaks and occasional penetrations kept Boston on its heels. And musclemen like Dave Corzine, Paul Griffin and Kevin Restani were able to keep the Celtics from using their own fast break to break the game open. Brewer had 10 of his 14 points in the second period, and Moore had 18 of his 22 in the fourth period, including 15 of the first 17 for San Antonio.

But from the midpoint of the fourth period to the finish, the game belonged to one Robert Parish. He scored 9 of the next 13 points as Boston's lead grew from three points to 87-79. He got one point on a free throw after being fouled on a play on which he had five straight shot attempts. After a pair of fast-break baskets by Bird and Archibald had produced a six-point lead, 77-71, Parish came down, set up and hit four straight turnaround jumpers. When Maxwell scored on a fast-break layup with an assist from Archibald, Boston was ahead, 89-79, with 3:33 left, and it really didn't matter that the Celtics got only five points the rest of the way.

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