Walton Stifles Kareem
DATELINE: BOSTON, Jan. 22, 1986
In his 16 minutes of game time at Boston Garden tonight, the Bill Walton the Boston Celtics acquired as a part-time defensive intimidator played like the Bill Walton who led the Portland Trail Blazers to the National Basketball Association championship nine years ago.
With Walton playing in a manner Coach K. C. Jones called ''possessed'' and the Celtics forcing the Los Angeles Lakers into a halfcourt game, Boston rolled to a 110-95 victory. Walton, traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Celtics during the off-season for Cedric Maxwell and a first-round draft choice, missed only one shot in six attempts from the field, scored 11 points, had seven of his team's 12 blocked shots and grabbed eight rebounds.
First Meeting of Year
It was the first meeting between the Lakers and Celtics since last June 9 when Los Angeles dethroned Boston and won the league title in six games.
Besides Walton's presence, or because of it, the major change from last season was the Celtics' ability to harass the Lakers' shooters. Los Angeles hit only 39 percent of its shots and was prevented from reaching 100 points for only the fourth time this season. The Lakers showed no resemblance to the team that has the best record in the N.B.A., leads the league in scoring (120.6) and has won by an average margin of 14 points. The Celtics, who shot 39 percent in the sixth game of the championship round, shot 46 percent tonight.
''It's obvious the Celtics played better, bigger and longer,'' said Coach Pat Riley of the Lakers. ''We didn't play well, and they had a lot do with it. Walton played inspired ball. They took the game away from us early, and anytime we got any kind of run going, they woulld get three or four blocked shots.''
As a result, the Celtics won their sixth straight and their 10th in the last 11 games, bringing their record to 31-8. The Lakers are 32-8.
From the outset, when Robert Parish and Danny Ainge hit successive jumpers on Boston's first shots, the game belonged to the Celtics. Boston led by 16 points in the second quarter and led, 104-81, when Larry Bird left the game with 5 minutes 15 seconds remaining. Bird scored 21 points to extend his streak of 20 or more points to 14 straight games.
Sky Hook Fails
Nothing was going right for the Lakers, not even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's famed sky hooks, which often fell short of the basket. He made only 6 of his 20 attempts and had 17 points to lead his team.
The Celtic strategy was to try to take advantage of the Laker shortage at power forward. With Kurt Rambis back in Los Angeles with a sprained ankle, Maurice Lucas started in his place. The Celtics kept the pressure on Lucas, who will be 34 years old next month, by alternating their big front line of Walton, Parish, Kevin McHale and Bird.
Jones appeared proudest that his team had held the Lakers under 100 points.
''What happened tonight is that we stuck to our game plan, ran a good offense, a good defense and Kareem had an off night,'' he said. ''It was a heck of a team effort and a great individual one for Walton. He was alive on the defensive end with blocked shots, rebounds and picking up the guys that got behind others.''
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