This Ainge Guy Can Play a Little
May 31, 1984
Boston guard Danny Ainge says the NBA Championship Series has only just begun as it heads into tomorrow afternoon's nationally televised Game 3 (Channel 10, 3:30) at the Forum.
Ainge certainly showed signs of coming back to life Thursday night, scoring 12 points and contributing five assists as the Celtics tied the best-of-seven series at one game apiece with a 124-121 overtime victory at the Boston Garden.
Ainge became an important factor in Boston's most recent success story, shooting 6-for-10 from the field and giving the Celtics perimeter firepower against a team that was whistled down for three zone violations in the first half.
''I kind of felt this was going to be a good night for me,'' Ainge said after the game. ''But you have that kind of feeling lots of nights and nothing happens.
''The Lakers have been giving us the outside shot in this series and I don't think they're going to change their game plan at this point. I guess that's why Scott Wedman and I got more time than usual.''
Ainge played 25 minutes. Wedman, a 6-7 shooting forward, played 18 minutes and was on the floor long enough to sink the Lakers with a 15-foot baseline jumper that was the deciding field goal in overtime.
Both players basked under an unfamiliar spotlight. Wedman, a one-time all-star with the Kansas City Kings, was acquired by the Celtics from Cleveland last January. He is making more than $800,000, but had not been worth anything close to that amount this season, playing in just one of three previous playoff games. Ainge is a highly publicized All-America guard from Brigham Young University who played a year of baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays before switching pro sports in 1982. He had been mediocre at best with Boston, losing his starting job this year after the Celtics acquired defensive whiz Dennis Johnson from the Phoenix Suns.
Ainge's biggest contribution to the Celtics' success before Game 2 against LA was the forearm blow he delivered to Darrell Walker in the Knicks' series.
Ainge was trying to stop Walker, a 6-4 rookie guard, from driving to the basket. Instead, he nearly started World War III, setting off a bench-clearing brawl at the Boston Garden. For that blow, Ainge was tagged with the unglamorous nickname, ''Danny Mainge,'' by the New York media.
''In the last few games I was just going to give DJ (Johnson) a rest,'' Ainge said. ''I didn't take any shots. I wasn't really in long enough to take any shots. I think what hapened to us in our previous few series was not good for us.
''Sunday's game woke us up to the fact that we should be running. And, of course, when we are running, it's to my advantage. When we're playing a halfcourt game, the ball is designed to go to our inside guys. I'm allowed to shoot off the break. If the shot is there, I'm going to take it.''
On the surface, Ainge looks too slow to play effectively in this series. But all six of his field goals came off fastbreaks, a good sign for ardent Celtics' fans. Ainge had four field goals when Boston built a 24-20 lead to 35-22 late in the first quarter. He had two more in the third period before retiring to the bench for the night when Jones started searching to find players with more size and quickness to cover Lakers guards Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and Byron Scott.
''I always feel I can shoot,'' Ainge said. ''I hit my first couple and I was able to stay in there a little longer. He (Jones) didn't feel he had to go to anybody else.'
- #05 (Walton)
- #08 (Wedman)
- #12 (Sichting)
- 1971-72 Lakers
- 2007-08 Scores
- Banner 17
- Grassy Knoll Network
- Green Mile
- Larry & Magic
- NBA Scoreboard
- Russell v. Chamberlain
- Walton Gang (1977)