1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 118, Bulls 105
Times are tough here in the windy city. George Halas died, mayor Harold Washington is off to a rocky start, the Bears are effectively out of the playoffs, the Black Hawks are slumping, and there is talk about putting lights in Wrigley Field. Chicago's NBA entry offers no escape. The Bad News Bulls are 5-12 and making a serious run at the bottom spot in the Central Division. A trip to Chi-town was just what the Celtics needed after Sunday's draining overtime loss to the 76ers. Boston handed the Bulls their sixth straight loss last night, a 118-105 spanking at Chicago Stadium, the city's ancient West Side sports palace.
It was a close game for 18 minutes, but the Celtics outscored the inept Bulls, 24-9, in the final 6:35 of the first half, led, 66-52, at intermission, and never allowed the Bulls to get closer than eight in the second half. The inside muscle of Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Larry Bird (an aggregate 65 points and 31 rebounds), and another stellar performance from the emerging Gerald Henderson (17 points) proved too much for Kevin Loughery's Baby Bulls. The Celtics outrebounded the home team (49-42) and shot 54 percent to Chicago's 45.
"We've always matched up pretty well with these guys," said McHale, who made eight of 14 shots and had 14 rebounds in 35 minutes. "Our size up front gave 'em problems. They really don't have anyone who can guard Larry or Robert." Or Kevin. Ask Loughery. "McHale makes it difficult for 22 teams in this league. He's a great basketball player. He's playing with more offensive freedom this year. He's opening up and driving to the basket. No wonder they pay him a million dollars a year." Meanwhile, Bird was his usual Dan Fouts self. When Chicago pulled to within eight in the third quarter, slingin' Larry started unloading the touchdown bombs to Parish and Henderson. Boston ripped off nine in a row and the long-suffering Chicago fans - a meager gathering of 7627 - started thinking about what the Cubs or White Sox might be doing in Nashville.
"It's pretty tough on the defense when we do that," said Bird (24 points, 11 rebounds). "I thought that when we got the long passes in the third quarter, that broke it open." Loughery agreed. "We gave them too many baskets off the long passes," said the Chicago coach. "We studied films, scouted them, and practiced against it, but we still let it happen." Henderson (13 in the first half) paced the Celtics to a quick 12-6 lead. Then Reggie Theus (a surprise starter from Loughery's doghouse), and Orlando Woolridge pushed the Bulls to a 17-16 lead. It went back and forth for the rest of the quarter as Woolridge and Bird treated the crowd to some great individual offense.
Woolridge, who finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds, undressed Bird, scoring Chicago's final 10 points of the first quarter. The ex-Notre Dame great ended up with 16 in the first 12 minutes. Bird (nine of 15 from the floor overall) fought back, scoring Boston's final seven in the period, including a three-point bomb. Boston led, 32-30, after one. With 6:35 left in the first half, Chicago led, 43-42, before the Celtics went into their post-pattern offense. A couple of TD bombs from Bird to Parish and Henderson made it 50-43. When the Bulls cut it to five, the Celtics ripped off 12 straight to take their biggest lead of the half, 64-47. The Bulls cut it to 66-52 by halftime, and Woolridge, suddenly an offensive force in the NBA, pulled Chicago to within eight a couple of times in the third quarter.
McHale and Parish wouldn't let Chicago get any closer.
Tuesday night's non-crowd (7627) in Chicago was easily the smallest to watch the Celtics this year. In fact, last season the only two Celtics games with smaller crowds were in Cleveland. It's a sad commentary on the state of the Bulls. They used to be able to get 7000 just to watch Larry Bird go through warmups . . . Going into last night's game, Gerald Henderson had connected on .655 percent (36-55) of his floor shots in the last five games. Henderson had
also hit five of eight three-point attempts.