October 22, 1997
Chris Mills knew it was coming. Over the first four exhibition games, he
was, as they say, adapting. Last night he took it a bit further and the
Celtics came away with their first win.
Antoine Walker was the undisputed star of this one, playing an
absolutely sensational game (31 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists) in a
99-96 victory over the Magic. But Mills was there as well, scoring 19
points (he had 32 in the first four games) with 5 rebounds, 4 assists,
and 4 steals. This was the Chris Mills that Celtics fans remembered.
"I'm starting to feel more confident," he said after his 36-minute,
7-for-9 shooting performance, which included his first two 3-pointers.
"I was concentrating a lot on the defensive end. I started to be more
aggressive on the offensive end."
Mills had 9 points in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics
lost a 6-point lead (it had been as high as 14) and seemed on the verge
of dropping their fifth straight. Five of those 9 came in a 13-3 run
during which Boston regained the lead. Walker (15 for 24) made two huge
hoops down the stretch to seal it.
Rick Pitino was asked about his first win and instead talked about how pleased he was that the Celtics
had more than 35 deflections, which is a goal for each game. They had
not come close in the first four games. He lauded Walker, Mills, Dee
Brown (29 minutes, 3 points, 5 assists, 4 steals), and Pervis Ellison
(16 minutes, 3 steals, 2 blocked shots).
have a horse which may qualify for the Kentucky Derby," Pitino said. "I
told Pervis that if he plays all 82 games, I'll give him a piece of the
Pitino didn't elaborate.
Relaxing the press
did not press nearly as much as they had in the first four games. "I
only want to press 40 or 50 percent of the time," Pitino explained.
"It's more effective when you mix it up. We did it more in the other
games because we were teaching it. But we want to play these last four
games like real games." . . . The Celtics
flew home after the game and host the Knicks tonight. They are
scheduled to have a shootaround at 3 p.m. . . . Bruce Bowen accompanied
the team on the trip but was held out of action because of a concussion .
. . Rony Seikaly, the Orlando center, missed the game with a sprained
right foot . . . Chauncey Billups started the fourth quarter, made a bad
pass, then sat out the rest of the game. Backcourt mate Ron Mercer had
it going in the first half (16 points) but took only two shots in the
second and finished with 17 points.
Nick Anderson is becoming basketball's version of Steve Blass. In the
Magic's six exhibition games, he is 18 for 59 from the field (30.5
percent) and, even more amazing, has not attempted a free throw in 157
minutes. Anderson's troubles at the line were well documented last year,
and his new three-year deal has incentives based on a better free throw
percentage. You can't make them if you don't take them. Then again, you
can't miss them, either . . . Old friend Brian Shaw made his exhibition
debut (he has been hobbled by a sprained left ankle) and lasted only
five minutes, reinjuring himself in the first half . . . The game
featured 44 turnovers. Boston turned it over 23 times, leading to 37
Orlando points. The Celtics managed 23 points off 21 Magic turnovers . . . Celtics
consultant and former Orlando coach Richie Adubato was at the game. He
still lives in the area . . . Pat Williams, the Magic's senior executive
vice president, has a new book out called "The Magic of Team Work."
Williams should know. He and his new wife are parents to 15 kids, many
of them adopted.