McHale Bank Shot Downs Lakers, as C's move to 33-6

McHale Bank Shot Downs Lakers, as C's move to 33-6

January 17, 1985

It was cold in Boston tonight, but for Celtic fans it was June in January, a time to relive the past.

The Los Angeles Lakers were in town for their first meeting with Boston since last June 12, when the Celtics won their 15th National Basketball Association championship.

The outcome at Boston Garden tonight was the same as it was last spring, the Celtics won - this time by 104-102 - but the hero was different. Instead of Cedric Maxwell and Larry Bird, it was Kevin McHale.

The 6-foot-11-inch McHale, the league's best sixth man, broke a 102- 102 tie with a second remaining on a short bank shot after a pass from Bird.

Kept Pace With 76ersIt gave the Celtics their seventh straight victory and enabled them to remain deadlocked for the Atlantic Division lead with the Philadelphia 76ers, who ran their winning streak to 13 at the expense of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Celtics and the 76ers, both 33-6, will meet for the third time this season Sunday at Boston Garden.

McHale's winning basket came after he had missed 9 of his 12 previous shots from the field. But with 14 seconds to play and the teams tied, Coach K. C. Jones looked to him.

''I never gave any thought that McHale was shooting poorly when we designed the play for him,'' Jones said. ''We wanted to go inside with the ball in Larry's hands and the ball down low to McHale. If we got it to him, it was his kind of shot. He rarely misses those kind of shots. We also felt he had the height advantage on Kurt Rambis and the percentages were in our favor. McHale was missing chippies all night, something he seldom does. It strengthened our odds to have him take the shot. Besides, he owed us one.''

McHale said he was grateful for his coach's confidence in him. ''I thanked K. C. when he called my number during the time out,'' he explained. ''I told him thanks for helping a struggling man. I probably had six or seven shots like the game winner that didn't go in. K. C. felt one of them had to go in.''

Parish Not So Sure

But Robert Parish, who had 13 rebounds and 19 points, was not so sure.

''I'm glad coach had the confidence in McHale because I wouldn't have,'' the Boston center said. ''I was taking a running start at the rebound as soon as he threw up the shot.''

Parish had tied the game with 30 seconds remaining on a 3-point play - a layup off one of Bird's seven assists, and a free throw after Parish had been fouled by Michael Cooper.

With the score tied, Earvin (Magic) Johnson hit a spinning shot for the Lakers which John Vanak, one of the two officials, disallowed. Instead, he called Danny Ainge for a foul before the shot, and since it was a nonshooting foul, Los Angeles had to inbound the ball.

Three times the Lakers failed to break the tie. First, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, who scored 33 points, missed a 12 footer and then James Worthy and Johnson missed tap-in attempts before Parish grabbed the rebound.

The Celtics entered the final quarter ahead, 87-84, on the strength of a 12-point third period by Ainge that nearly offset Abdul-Jabbar's 14-point period.

But a sky hook by Abdul-Jabbar put the Lakers ahead, 90-89. Ainge, who finished with 16 points, regained the lead for Boston on a basket with 5:24 to play. Several lead changes followed before successive baskets by Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy gave the Lakers a 102-99 lead with 1:37 left. The Lakers never scored again.

Electioneering for Bird

On the final night of fan balloting, a strong effort was being made at Boston Garden to get Bird a starting berth on the East team for the league's All-Star Game Feb. 10. Although Bird was the league's most valuable player last season, he trails Julius Erving of the 76ers and Kelly Tripucka of the Pistons badly in the voting for a starting spot at forward. Since the fans decide who starts, there was a lot of hawking and electioneering for Bird votes before the game and during halftime. The team will be announced Jan. 25. . . . This was the first time the Lakers have lost three straight games since the 1982-83 season. . . . The Celtics committed only five turnovers in the last three periods after they had made seven that the Lakers turned into 14 points in the opening period. . . . The victory gave the Celtics a 17-1 home record, the best in the league.

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