Chris Mills Dealt for Waltah

October 23, 1997

Everyone almost forgot. There was a game last night at the FleetCenter. In fact, it was Rick Pitino's home debut against the team he last coached in the NBA.

But few people wanted to talk about Knicks-Celtics. They were more interested in the trade that sent Chris Mills to the Knicks for Walter McCarty, John Thomas, Dontae Jones, and Scott Brooks. Pitino was interested in the deal, too.

Before the game. When the contest started, the coach acted as if it were Game 6 of the NBA Finals rather than Game 6 of the exhibition season. His prodding wasn't enough. The reshaped Celtics entertained most of the fans in attendance,

but they lost to the reshaped Knicks, 89-84.

Boston's new guys watched the game from the stands. "This is a dream come true," Jones said of the deal. "I needed the change. It's more of a freelance style. I can't wait to play the Knicks four times a year."

Former Pitino forward-center McCarty was excited as well. "I love this trade," said the Kentucky alumnus. "I can't wait to get back to playing Coach P's style. I'm familiar with what he wants, what he expects, what's expected of you."

Anyone could have sensed what Pitino wanted last night: a win. He watched a terrific shooting performance by Dana Barros (8 for 12, 23 points), a wild night for Antoine Walker (9 for 24, 21 points), and a good defensive effort in the

fourth quarter, when the Celtics whittled an 86-79 lead to 86-84 with 23.7 seconds left.

But Ed T. Rush called a foul on Pervis Ellison after an inbounds play, sending Patrick Ewing (22 points) to the free throw line. Ewing hit both shots, making the score 88-84. The Celtics missed several shots on their next possession,

and the game was over. The locals played solidly but shot only 39 percent from the field.

Youth is served

Concerned about the Celtics' youth? Jeff Van Gundy says you shouldn't be. "People get too carried away with youth," the Knicks coach said. "It's about talent. Walter has shown great improvement and will give energy to the Celtics." It's

appropriate that Van Gundy would talk about this issue from afar; his youngest player is 26-year-old Allan Houston . . . Chauncey Billups struggled from the field, missing his first six field goal attempts. His first make was a

spinning, over-the-head layup in traffic . . . Last night was the debut of public address announcer Greg Dickerson, who replaced the legendary Andy Jick. Dickerson was restrained (and listenable) during his first day on the job . . .

Tyus Edney, who signed with the Celtics the same day as Mills, did not play last night. The point guard has logged only 36 minutes in six exhibition games. The only players who have spent less time on the court are Lorenzo Coleman and

William Cunningham. Coleman was waived earlier this week . . . New Celtic Thomas could open the season on injured reserve. He has been bothered by a sore hamstring. He says he looks forward to joining the Celtics. "I'm real excited,"

the power forward said. "It's a different style. It should be fun." Brooks also has had hamstring problems, but he isn't expected to stay with the team long . . . Walker was given a second-quarter technical by Rush. The official didn't

like the way the forward yelled after a nifty layup.

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