Cowens and Tree Rollins Ejected for First Period Fisticuffs

January 12, 1980

Hubie Brown shook up his starting lineup in the last Atlanta game, and the result was a 111-107 victory over Cleveland. He inserted center Wayne (Tree) Rollins, forward Tom McMillen and guard Charlie Criss at the expense of Steve Hawes, John Drew and Armond Hill, with the following explanation:

"Over the entire season, and especially over the last 20 games, both Drew and Hill had three fouls in the first quarter. It's always been the second unit which was bailing us out of deficits ranging from 6 to 12 points. We're always behind, it seems, especially on the road. As for Hawes and Rollins, we've changed that around before. That's no big thing. In our last game, we got off to a lead in the first quarter with this group, and as soon as we put the other people in, we fell down, which proves my point."

However, that strategy went by the boards last night when Rollins and Celtics' center Dave Cowens were ejected for their first-period fight.

Larry Bird had been undergoing treatment for his injured right hand and was expected to start. Bird jammed the knuckle at the base of the right index finger on Wednesday night against New York. He was trying to block a Knick shot late in the first half when the mishap occurred. Assuming that Bird answered the bell, it meant that the Celtics had employed the same starting lineup for 42 regular-season games, plus all eight exibitions. Many other teams wish they could make that statement . . . Hubie said that when the Hawks were last in town, he was contemplating a lineup change for his Atlanta team identical to the one he tried the other night ("We said we'd give them one more game"), but when his team blasted the Celtics by 28 (120-92), he left things alone.

Cowens' 12-rebound effort on Wednesday against New York represented his first double-figures board outing since Dec. 14, a span of 10 games. But no matter what his scoring, rebound or assist totals in any given game, he has gone out and played the best 41 games of defense submitted by any center in the league this season.

Brent Musberger arrived in town early to do some homework in preparation for tomorrow's televised game against the Los Angeles Lakers . . . The sellout crowd at the Garden last night gave the Celtics 13 capacity crowds in 19 home games. They are already sold out for tomorrow's LA game, and that will boost them over the 14,000 mark in average attendance for the first time in their history (past the month of October, anyway) . . . Remember that tomorrow's game (1 p.m.) will be on Channel 38 and not Channel 7. The latter is committed to the Cerebral Palsy telethon . . . Next Friday's game with Portland will be televeised by Channel 4, despite the fact that it's a home game.

The Hawks cut Rick Wilson and activated Boston's Ronnie Lee just prior to last night's game. Ronnie had been out for a few weeks with a broken hand . . . Chris Ford's amazing long-range shooting stats: 10 straight games and 22 of 23 making at least one three-pointer. It was the Hawks who launched him back on Nov. 24, when he went 3 for 3 in the Omni . . . Cedric Maxwell had shot at least 50 percent from the floor in every home game, and all but four road games. His .620 percentage trailed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's league- leading field-goal percentage by .004.

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