Make that 23 out of 24 Thanks to Dudley Bradley
January 24, 1981
The Celtics are still alive thanks to their new sixth man'. The only way that Dudley Bradley could have made two free throws with no time remaining would have been if he had nerves of steel and was completely deaf.
With a crowd of 15,320 screaming in his ears, Bradley made only one of three free throws and thus the Celtics were able to escape with a 104-103 victory last night, extending their winning streak to 11 in a row. Larry Bird had 32 points to lead Boston. But it was he who committed an apparently costly foul at the buzzer with Boston leading, 104-102.
What had been a game of peaks and valleys on both sides had come out a flat-even foot race at the finish. The Pacers had jumped to a 50-44 lead at halftime and had the Celtics on their heels. Boston came out in the third period, hit 12 of the first 14 shots for a 30-9 run in the first 7:53. The crowd settled back because a 16- point lead these days seems a safe one, especially for the Celtics.
But the Pacers came charging back, and after falling back at 94-86, put on a 12-4 spurt that resulted in a tie at 98 with 2:36 left. But they never got the lead as George McGinnis failed to convert the free throw on a three-point play. Boston got two points on a pair of free throws by Cedric Maxwell and two more on a layup by Bird for a l04-100 lead and Indiana never caught up.
The Pacers got the ball back with 19 seconds left when Chris Ford missed on a three-point try. After a time out, they tried to run a play and center James Edwards missed two wide-open jump shots. Bradley got the rebound after the second shot with three seconds left and was shoved by Bird as the buzzer sounded. He calmly went to the line, but fell victim to the wall of noise, and when he missed the second free throw, the Celtics had won.
For one half, at least, the Pacers were as advertised, a revived team of balance and scoring talent. The Celtics, riding a 10-game winning streak, found at the quarter pole - when they trailed, 27-19 - that they were not the only team that could play defense. Indiana withstood several charges by Boston and led at halftime, 50-44.
The dye was cast early when it was Indiana and not Boston that jumped off to the lead. The Pacers have a legitimate shot- blocker in James Edwards, and Boston was not able to either establish its inside game or get the fast break working with any consistency.
Trailing, 17-9, Boston rallied to within two points twice, the last time at 21-19. But then they were the victims of a blocked shot and committed seven straight turnovers in the last 4:12 of the period and Indiana moved to its eight-point lead. Boston had 10 turnovers in the period. Indiana Guard Johnny Davis had nine points.
Coach Bill Fitch went to his bench in the second period, the 12 minutes in which the Celtics usually make up ground. M.L. Carr made his second appearance since coming back from a broken bone in his foot, and Gerry Henderson went to guard. Rick Robey and Kevin McHale moved inside. Bird and Robey led another Boston spurt, and the lead was cut to two points again, 31-29. But after a basket by Bird made it 33-31, the Pacers scored seven straight points for some breathing room, 40-31.
Robert Parish returned at this point, and Boston stayed close because of its inside strength. But the Pacers got rolling again behind Davis and McGinnis and pushed from a 40-38 lead to the 50-44 advantage in the last 3:56 of the period. Parish and Bird had 12 points to lead Boston. Davis had 11 for Indiana. Boston shot only 42 per cent, 19-45.
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