1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 125, Pacers 106
February 4, 1984
The best thing about Larry Bird is that you've never seen it all. Each outing, he comes up with something new to spur the Celtics to heights even they don't dare hope for. Bird was at his very best in the second quarter when the Celtics' 21-7 spree demoralized the Indiana Pacers who had to come back for more of the same in second half, and eventually lost, 125-106, before a sellout crowd of 14,890 at the Garden. Indiana trailed by as many as 30 points in the second half. Bird scored 21 of his game-high 27 points in the first half. He had 12 in the first period when Boston held a modest five point lead, 30-25. He only had nine in the second period when Boston walked away with a 70-56 advantage. But a better barometer of his first-half activity is to point out that Bird also had 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.
The Pacers had lost 12 previous times at the Garden dating back to 1978. But in none of those beatings was a there a performance like Bird put on with Boston leading, 49-43. It began with a feed to Kevin McHale and ended the same way. In between, Bird had either a steal, an assist or a basket in every point the Celtics scored in the last 5:03 of the second period. As if Bird's performance was enough of a humiliation, his Celtic teammates got in the spirit of things in the third quarter when Boston put on one of those unstoppable blitzes and went on a 30-8 binge to start the period. Six of the baskets were on layups, and with the Celtics leading by 30 points, 94-64, the only thing Garden fans had left was 20 minutes of garbage time, longest of the year for Boston. Bird finished the night with 6 steals, 9 assists and 12 rebounds. Kevin McHale and Robert Parish each had 17 points.
The Celtics began the night riding the crest of a seven-game winning streak. Indiana seemed a logical choice as number eight as it had lost 12 in a row at the Garden dating back to 1978. It didn't seem that way at first. After the first three minutes, Boston trailed, 8-6, and had trouble getting anything going. But that is when Larry Bird and Robert Parish came to life to lead the Celtics on a 14-4 run and a 20-12 lead. Parish scored six points as Boston moved ahead, 14-10. Bird came back and scored six, putting Boston ahead by eight points. The lead grew to 23-14 before the Pacers began to battle back. Led by Butch Carter and George Johnson, they ralied to cut the lead to three points at 27-24 on a layup by Carter, following a steal. The lead dropped to two points with 39 seconds left as Lowe hit one of two free throws. But a three- point shot by M. L. Carr moments later restored the Celts lead to five points and after one quarter, Boston led, 30-25. Bird, who hit five of his first seven shots, had 12 points in the period.
But his work in the first period was nothing compared to the vintage performance Bird turned in during the second period as Boston led by as many as 18 points (68-50) and went away at halftime leading, 70-56. The game was still close when Johnson hit a jumper with 5:53 left, 49-43. But then Bird started one of those amazing runs that only he can do. He fed McHale then came back with a runner to boost the lead to eight points, then it was Katie Bar The Door. Boston then outscored the Pacers, 19-9, in the next 5:23 and Bird had something to do with every point. First, he stole the ball and made a perfect touch feed to Gerald Henderson for an easy breakaway layup. That was followed by a three-point shot from the corner.
Bird got assists on the next two Celtic baskets, both by Henderson, and brought the Garden crowd to life with a scoop shot for a layup. He fed Henderson on another breakaway, which resulted in two free throws, and then scored on another layup. When he fed McHale for a short jumper, the Celtics had an 18-point lead, 70-52, and the Garden crowd was going crazy. Bird ended the first half with 21 points (9-16), 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.