Todd Day Ties Bird Record in Win Over McHale's Wolves

December 23, 1995

Todd Day Ties Bird Record in Win Over McHale's Wolves

Dana Barros moved into the NBA record book and Todd Day turned in a career performance last night at the FleetCenter, but it was Dino Radja's free throw with 2.4 seconds left that allowed the Celtics to narrowly escape with a 114-113 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Barros broke the NBA record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer, connecting on his second try of the night with 8:56 left in the first quarter to reach 80 straight games. Day had a career-high 41 points, but the Celtics needed to rally late in the fourth quarter to avoid a loss of catastrophic proportions.

Radja, who finished with 19 points, was fouled by Tom Gugliotta after a scramble for the ball in front of the Celtics' basket. He hit the first free throw and missed the second, but the ball caromed hard off the rim toward the right corner, where Celtics guard David Wesley retrieved it as time expired. "Thank goodness for the long rebound," Celtics coach M.L. Carr said with a major sigh of relief. "It worked out well for us that Dino missed the second shot, but in those situations you always hope for the points. I learned that from Red (Auerbach) a long time ago."

Carr might have also learned from the master that a win's a win, even if it is accompanied by far too many anxious moments against one of the league's worst teams. The Timberwolves left town with a 6-17 record, 2-10 on the road. Yet the Celtics (12-12) received a major scare before snapping a two-game losing streak and reclaiming a .500 record. "This proves again that we're not good enough to take anyone lightly," said Barros, who finished with 17 points. "We can't go out and expect to win any game unless we play a good game. It doesn't matter whether it's Chicago or Minnesota."

Barros' only 3-pointer of the night provided the headlines around the league. But his electrifying one-on-one drive past Terry Porter for a layup with 33.4 seconds left put the Celtics in a position to win the game, giving the hosts a 113-111 lead. Gugliotta tied the game with 20.6 seconds left when he hit a pair of free throws. The Celtics called a timeout and set up a play to isolate Barros again. But this time Porter denied him the ball, forcing Dee Brown to improvise. Brown drove from the left side, but appeared to be hit as he reached the lane and was stripped of the ball. Day picked up the loose ball on the right baseline, but was also separated from the ball as it rolled toward the lane.

Radja, in the right place at the right time, collected the loose ball. Gugliotta had no choice but to foul him. "In that situation, Dana or Dee can get the job done and both are good free-throw shooters," said Carr, explaining the play he diagrammed in the huddle. "But it didn't exactly happen the way it was supposed to. We'll take it anyways." Day practically did that himself. He scored seven more than his previous career high, including a 24-point explosion in the second period that tied Larry Bird for most points scored by a Celtic during a quarter. Day's one-man show helped his team to a 69-62 halftime lead, but the Timberwolves wouldn't fade away.

Behind Christian Laettner's 23 points, 19 from Isaiah Rider and Gugliotta's 18, they pushed the Celtics into a 109-106 deficit with 1:38 left. Brown, fouled by Kevin Garnett (17 points) on a 3-point attempt, canned all three free throws with 1:23 left to knot the game at 109.

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