Celtics Steal Win over Dallas

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 114, Mavs 109 (OT)
Record: 24-8


It was a year in which Larry Bird and Kevin McHale became millionaires, while Harry Mangurian and Bill Fitch sold out. It was a year in which the Milwaukee Bucks humbled the Celtics in a four- game playoff sweep - which led to sweeping changes in the off-season. In a gritty and intense 53 minutes, the Green Team said goodbye to 1983 with a 114-109 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks last night. The victory enabled Boston to close the year with the most wins in the NBA, a 12-3 December and a 7-0 lifetime record against the emerging Mavericks. The Celtics stole this one. They trailed most of the way and faced a six-point deficit with 2:39 left. "Mercy," said coach K.C. Jones. "Coming off a loss like last night's (in Houston) and then hanging in there tonight showed a lot of guts. We didn't quit."

The overtime was relatively simple compared with the end of regulation. Jones had his starting five on the floor for the entire extra period. Dennis Johnson opened the scoring, burying a jumper from 18 feet to put the Celtics ahead for good. Then Kurt Nimphius fouled Bird going for an offensive rebound, and Cedric Maxwell canned a 17-foot set shot from out top to make it 107-103 with 3:36 left. Brad Davis came back with two on a drive down the lane, but Maxwell drove on Jay (He Ain't Heavy, He's Fat) Vincent and scored as he was fouled. Maxwell made the free throw, and the Celtics were up by five with three minutes left. "When you get the first couple of baskets in overtime, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team," said Maxwell, who finished with 20 points. "Those five minutes go by awfully fast." Rolando Blackman (34 points) cut Boston's lead to 110-107 with a jumper, but Pat Cummings and Davis missed shots on Dallas' next three possessions. And when Larry Bird (36) scored on a drive with 36 seconds left, the Celtics led, 112-107, and you could hear Don Meredith humming "The Party's Over."

The Mavericks must feel somewhat jinxed against the Celtics. Dallas led by 10 points for a good portion of the game and held a 103-99 lead with 35 seconds left in regulation. But the fact that Mark Aguirre (22 points) had fouled out with 3:50 left didn't help, and neither did a flurry of late turnovers forced by the tenacious Celtics."We felt if we kept the pressure on 'em, we could probably break them," said Maxwell.After Davis' bomb had made it 103-99 with 36 seconds left, Bird (14 for 25 overall) came back seven seconds later and canned one from the top of the key. Dallas came back, and Davis dished off to Cummings underneath, but Cummings' shot missed, and Robert Parish grabbed the rebound. Still trailing by two, the Celtics called time with 7 seconds remaining.After the pause, Bird inbounded from midcourt to DJ."I had a few options," said Johnson (17 points, 6 assists). "I could flip it back to Larry or drive to the hole. But there's not much time for hesitation with seven seconds."DJ drove straight for the hoop and was fouled by Blackman with four seconds left. With great cool, he made both to tie it.

The Mavericks squandered their last chance. Vincent inbounded to Blackman, but under heavy pressure from DJ, Blackman stepped out of bounds as he caught the ball. The Celtics took one last shot, but it was an airball by Bird from the left corner and extra innings awaited.The Celtics would like to forget about the first 24 minutes. It was a lot like Thursday's Houston humiliation. The Celtics committed 11 turnovers (nine in the first period), shot 40 percent (16-40), played Denver Nugget defense, and trailed, 54-46, at intermission. the Celtics roared back in the third quarter. Down by 10, Boston started running and Gerald Henderson and Bird led a 10-4 run that trimmed Dallas' lead to four. Parish (four in the first half against the immortal Cummings) awoke from sleep's dark and silent gate, scoring eight points in the period, including a dunk that tied it at 64, and two free throws gave the Celtics their first lead (66-64) since 2-0. The Celtics hung on and led, 75-74, after three 1983-84

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