Cornbread Posts 9 Dimes in Win

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 132, Pacers 125

Record 31-9

January 21, 1984

In a lackluster but very physical game, the Celtics wore down the aggressive Indiana Pacers, 132-125, last night before 13,134 at the Civic Center. Three Celtics hit for 20 or more points, with Larry Bird showing the way with 27, followed by Robert Parish and Kevin McHale with 22 each. But equally impressive with his unselfish play was Cedric Maxwell, who consistently fed his teammates, accumulating nine assists to go along with his 13 points.

For the Pacers, it was their seventh straight defeat and their 18th loss in their last 19 road games this season - not to mention 33 of their last 34 games away dating back to last year. Little wonder that the rumor factories have been working overtime suggesting that coach Jack McKinney will soon join the unemployed ranks. The only bright spots for the Pacers were Clark Kellogg, who made good on 14 of 18 field-goal attempts while chalking up a game-high 32 points, and Steve Stipanovich added 23 points.

What made the Celtics' win possible was the ability of the team to respond to every challenge made by the Pacers, who on several occasions pulled to within four points of Boston, only to repeatedly falter. Their last serious threat occurred wih less than four minutes remaining when Herb Williams hit on a power layup to cut their deficit 105-100. But the Pacers began to push their brawn around, and the Celtics increased their lead to 110-100 after Dennis Johnson and M.L. Carr combined for five free throws. McHale then dropped the lid on fading Indiana by popping in a shot from inside the lane followed by one of his patented hooks from the right side. That shot the Celtics ahead, 114-105, and the rest was academic.

The big difference in the stretch for the Celtics was the effectiveness of the five players who were left on the floor by coach K.C. Jones for the final 12 minutes. The unit was comprised of Bird, Parish, McHale, Carr and Johnson. During that span, they posted up six times in a row, which resulted in six points, and an eventual spurt for a seven-point lead (118-111) at a vital stage of the game. In his postgame analysis, Jones said he felt that although the Celtics were cruising along, the Pacers "had the knack of making the most of the turnovers we made." In discussing the fine all-around play of Maxwell, Carr said all the players wanted him to go for the triple-double. And the Rubber Man just barely missed, finishing out the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists.

"He (Maxwell) can do anything he puts his mind to do," said Carr. Whatever the encounter lacked in finesse, it more than made up in rough and tumble body contact that caused tempers to flare, including that of Celtics assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers, whose anger with the officiating earned him a third-period eviction from referee Bennett Salvatore. Rodgers said he became upset when Quinn Buckner appeared to getting the worse of it during a wild scramble for a loose ball. His objections were duly recorded by Salvatore, who wasted little time slapping two quick technicals on him, hence the automatic removal from the game.

This game was a mixed bag. The first half saw the Celtics and the Pacers playing careless and lethargic basketball during the early stages before they began heating up in the second period with an improved tempo and better shooting. After Kellogg hit on a layup to give the Pacers an 8-6 lead, the Celtics jumped ahead to stay for the remainder of the first half when Bird hit a running righthander and DJ drove the lane for a 12-10 lead. Neither team established a consistent all-round floor game in the first two periods, and as bad as the Pacers were in shooting (they shot a puny 40.7 percent), the Celtics were worse with a 36 percent (9-of-25) field-goal average. In spite of their bricklaying, the Celtics built a 24-22 advantage going into the second quarter. The Pacers did come back wih a mild flurry just before the first half ended but never really challenged after the break.

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