Parish, McHale Too Much as C's Take 3-1 Lead Over Bullets

Parish, McHale Too Much as C's Take 3-1 Lead Over Bullets

May 3, 1982

Before Bill Fitch, the coach of the Boston Celtics, would impart any thoughts to reporters about his team's 103-99 overtime victory over Washington at the Capital Centre today, he had one question for them.

''Is there anyone here who doesn't believe that the Bullets are a good team?'' he asked.There was silence. Indeed, the Bullets struggled gallantly, and proved that they belonged in this Eastern Conference semifinal series with Boston. But after today, it was evident that the Celtics, defending champions of the National Basketball Association, are a much better team. And with their triumph, the Celtics have nearly sealed the Bullets' extinction.

Boston now holds a 3-1 lead in the four-of-seven-game series, with the next game to be played in Boston Garden on Wednesday.

Parish Is Dominant

Robert Parish, the Celtics' center, again dominated for Boston on offense, tying Spencer Haywood of the Bullets for game-high scoring honors with 28 points. For Haywood, now in his 11th N.B.A. season, that total represented his season high.

It was a close game throughout, much closer than might have been expected after the Celtics won Game 3 handily here Saturday afternoon.

But the Bullets forced the Celtics into a poor-shooting first half - 17 of 44 for 38 percent - and paced by Haywood's 16 points built a 49-44 lead by intermission.

That edge swelled to 60-50, in the third period before the Celtics, behind 8 points from four high-arching jumpers by Parish, pulled to 73-69 going into the fourth.

From there, neither team was able to assume command in what turned out to be the most well-played quarter of the series. After the Celtics tied the score, 75-75, by outscoring the Bullets, 6-2, at the start of the final period, the game was tied seven times before regulation ended at 91-91.

McHale Hot in Overtime

In the overtime, Boston's Kevin McHale, who had missed two crucial free throws with 39 seconds left in regulation, was the deciding factor. He scored the Celtics' first 6 points, the last of which tied the score at 97-97 with 1:50 left. After that he sparked an aggressive defense that held the Bullets to two free throws with six seconds remaining. McHale also blocked a 3-point effort by Kevin Grevey with eight seconds left.

Each team had opportunities to pull away in the final quarter. With the score tied, 85-85, and 3 minutes 50 seconds remaining, Haywood hit a short jumper. After a Celtics substitute, Gerald Henderson, was called for traveling, the Bullets' center, Rick Mahorn, twice grabbed errant Bullets shots before scoring to give Washington an 89-85 edge.

Here the game became a flurry of missed shots and fouls. The Celtics point guard, Nate (Tiny) Archibald, missed a driving layin, but Don Collins of the Bullets in turn missed a 15-footer at the other end. Parish and Mahorn then exchanged missed shots before Archibald was sent to the free-throw line on a foul by Collins. Archibald made the two shots.

Ballard Harasses Bird

On the Bullets' next possession, Parish rebounded a shot by Frank Johnson and was fouled by Mahorn. His free throws tied the game, 89-89, with 1:46 left.

Boston then forced Collins into a five-second violation on an inbounds play, but was not able to capitalize as Greg Ballard blocked an ensuing shot by Larry Bird. Ballard turned in another stellar defensive performance today, Ballard forcing Bird, who had only 10 points, into a 4-for-16 shooting day from the field.

Seconds later, Parish was charged with his fifth personal foul. But Jeff Ruland hit only one of the two shots from the line. At the other end, Ruland fouled McHale, who had rebounded another Bird shot. But the Celtic forward missed both of the shots with 39 seconds left.

''I chocked,'' McHale later said. ''That's all there was to it.'' Ahead now, 90-89, the Bullets failed to take advantage of an opportunity to move ahead by when Mahorn, with two free-throw attempts, made only one.

With 17 seconds left Maxwell was fouled by Mahorn under the basket, and his free throws tied the game at 91.

'Don't Let Us Lose'

The Bullets had a final attempt, but Haywood failed to score on a drive to the basket past Bird. ''I would have liked to have gotten closer or gotten the foul,'' Haywood said. ''But it's like boxing. When you're playing the champion, you have to whip them and whip them good. In basketball, it has to be a real good foul to be called.''

As regulation ended, McHale said he was thinking about little other than his own missed free throws. ''I kept saying, 'Lord, don't let us lose like this.' If I hadn't missed, we wouldn't have been here. I wanted to vindicate myself.''

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