C's Beat Bulls as Bird Goes for 30, 10, & 10

1983-84 Boston Celtics
April 9, 1984

First, it was a rainy, blah Sunday. Second, the Celtics already were assured of the NBA's best record. Third, they were playing Chicago (27-51). This is a list of reasons to explain away the Celtics' slip-slidin' 117-110 victory yesterday. Several hundred fans among the announced sellout Garden crowd and five players didn't show up, including Celtics guards Danny Ainge (sprained left ankle) and Gerald Henderson (hamstring), ending his 327 consecutive-game streak. Cedric Maxwell (Achilles tendinitis) didn't play, either, but at least he was there.

It couldn't have been easy to watch. The Celtics let a 20-point first-half lead dwindle to 105-99 with 4:02 left. As Larry Bird (12 of 17 for 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, his seventh triple-double this season) left the bench to check back in, Quinn Buckner turned it over. But Bulls guard Quintin Dailey (31 points) traveled. Buckner then hit from 18, M.L. Carr stole from Dailey and slammed, Bulls center Dave Corzine missed everything from 17 and Buckner found McHale underneath for the slam for 111-99 with 2:51 left. The Celtics, in 34 seconds, had regained control of a game that had been drifting away for almost two quarters.

"A lot of guys knew it was going to be tough for them to concentrate," Buckner said. "That's what disappoints me. I wanted to concentrate throughout, but I just wasn't able to sustain it for a prolonged period of time. It was difficult, but it was a pretty hard game for (the Bulls) to play, too." "It's tough," said Bulls coach Kevin Loughery, "when you're down to eight players this time of the year and you're out of the playoffs."

It didn't make it easier when Bird and guard Scott Wedman (12 points in 29 minutes) went a combined 7 of 8 from outside for a 16-12 lead. Robert Parish and Kevin McHale (24 points) then went inside to begin a 19-5 run. The Bulls tried to stop it with a timeout at 2:49, trailing, 29-18. But M.L. Carr (22 points in 28 minutes), who had just replaced Bird, stole Wallace Bryant's inbounds and dunked, and the quarter ended 35-21. Boston kept at least a 12-point lead through the half, despite several lineups including rookies Greg Kite (20 minutes) and Carlos Clark (seven minutes).

"It was a tough game to play," Bird said. "I haven't played with Greg Kite all year, and I haven't played much with M.L." Kite, Bird and Carr took the Celtics on a 7-0 run to make it 44-25 with 9:18 left in the first half, and Carr's 14-point second quarter (his high had been 11) gave Boston a 20-point lead. The Bulls brought it back to 62-47 by halftime. But Dailey almost ended the Bulls' chance at the No. 1 draft choice with a 14-point quarter to cut Boston's 17-point lead to 11 early in the second half. The teams matched baskets for 6:24, until guard Mitchell Wiggins laid it in off of the break to cut it to nine with 1:42 in the third quarter.

"You really can't guard Dailey with just one man," said K.C. Jones. That Jones was playing only one real guard most of the quarter - Dennis Johnson with the 6-foot-7 Wedman - and the Bulls were using three, heightened the problem. Bird's 10 points in the quarter helped. Wiggins, a 6-4 rookie, was guarding him. "It's really tough when a guard is guarding you, because he's going to do everything he can to stop me," Bird said. "He was holding me a lot and the refs kept telling him. But you know you can get the ball down low and score, and after awhile we began calling my play (inside) to try and get him off me."

The Bulls, trailing, 88-77, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, kept poking inside, drawing free throws (12 of 17 in the last quarter) and eventually forcing Bird and Kite to five fouls, and McHale and Parish to disqualifications in the final two minutes. Still, the Celtics always led by at least eight, until two Dailey free throws cut it to six. And then the Celtics, finally given a reason, finished them off.


Maxwell aggravated his Achilles Friday night against Cleveland and is probable for tomorrow night's game in Milwaukee . . . Jones said Ainge is doubtful for the Bucks, which should upset Don Nelson. "I think Gerry (Henderson) will be ready for Tuesday," Jones said. "I told Gerry (Saturday), whatever he feels, it's up to him. He knows better than I would." As well as chalking up his streak, Henderson was the only Celtic to have started all 77 games . . .Loughery on Reggie Theus: "The problem with the Reggie thing was that he sat there for 70 or 80 games, and the negative reaction of the crowd really hurt our young players. Our young players are not used to the atmosphere at home. We really play better on the road." They are 18-21 at home and 9-30 away.

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