Celtics Subdue Pacers

1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 121, Pacers 105
Record: 3-1


Say all you want about the new defensive notions of the Celtics this year. What they still do best is overwhelm you with the toughest inside game in the National Basketball Assn. The Indiana Pacers found out the hard way last night as victims of a three-pronged attack, suffering their 17th-straight road loss in falling to the Celtics last night, 121-105. Robert Parish led the Celtics' big front line with 34 points, 29 in the second half. That was only a little ahead of Larry Bird, who finished with 31. For good measure, Kevin McHale came off the bench and added 20 points.

The victory was the third in four games this year for Boston, which has now won six in a row from Indiana at the Garden. The Pacers had a strong inside game themselves, with Herb Williams and Clark Kellogg each with 21 and rookie Steve Stipanovich adding 16. But their bench was no match for the Celtics, who built up a 17-point lead in the third quarter and fought off every charge by Indiana after that.

The Celtics began the night very leery of the rejuvenated Pacers, whom they beat four of five times last season. The loss was 130-101 March 29. Boston was coming off a 119-105 victory over Milwaukee in its home opener Wednesday night. The Pacers lost their first two games but beat Houston last Tuesday, 116-108. It didn't take long to figure out that Indiana would have a long night if they couldn't find a way to stop Bird. Boston shot to a 12-6 lead in the first five minutes, with Bird scoring eight of the first 12. He did it with a variety of jump shots and a delicious lefthanded hook after a steal. Indiana stayed close mainly on Stipanovich's inside shooting.

Bird gave Boston a 14-7 lead by hitting his fifth shot in six attempts. Then the Celtics fast break started to cook, with Bird and Dennis Johnson scoring the next six points as Boston's lead grew to nine points, 20-11. Indiana again stayed close behind with baskets by Stipanovich and Williams. When Jim Thomas drove the middle with three minutes left, the Boston lead was cut to five points at 23-18.

At this point, both clubs decided to go to the benches, and here, the Celtics edge was obvious from the moment McHale and Quinn Buckner entered the game. Boston went on a 14-6 tear, led by McHale and Parish. Bird chipped in with a three-pointer, giving him 18 for the first quarter, and Boston a 34-22 lead. The quarter ended on a three-point play by Parish, and Boston leading, 37-24. Parish had seven rebounds in the period. Bird hit seven of nine shots.

In the second period, it was McHale's turn to lead the Celtics charge. With Boston leading, 37-26, he threw in three straight baskets to widen the gap, 43-28. McHale also scored three of the next five Celtics points to give his team the biggest lead of the night at 46-30. But slowly, Indiana began to inch back, and, behind Butch Carter and Kellogg, pulled to within 11 points with 4:26 left in the period, 48-37.

Bird returned and helped Boston to a 52-37 lead. But then the Pacers spurted and, with 2:20 left, trailed by 10 points, 52-42. The Celtics then a got a break as McHale was fouled, and he sank two free throws. Then Pacer coach Jack McKinney was called for a technical foul, and Boston led by 15 points again, 57-42. Indiana outscored Boston the rest of the way, but the Celtics led 59-48 at halftime.

After a sluggish start, Boston picked up right where it left off in third period, with Bird and Parish combining for the first 11 points, seven by Parish, as Boston took a 17-point lead at 70-53. But then the Pacers ran off six straight points and made it a 70-59 game with 6:50 to go in the third. When Carter hit a layup and George Johnson followed with a basket, the Pacers completed a 10-point run and trailed by only seven points, 70-63. The Boston drought of 3 minutes, 8 seconds ended when Buckner, in for Henderson, hit a jumper with 5:20 left. With 4:30 left, Parish completed a three-point play, and Boston's lead grew to 11 points, 76-65.

Fatigue and foul trouble began to catch up with the Pacers, who somehow managed to stay close. Indiana sprinted to within seven points, 82-75, but a few minutes later trailed by 11 points, 88-77. After three quarters, Boston led, 90-80.

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