Bird Sits, Newcomers McHale and Parish Takeover
December 13, 1980
The star of Larry Bird Poster Night at Boston Garden spent 20 of the game's first 24 minutes on the bench with foul troubles tonight. By that time, his supporting cast had given the Celtics a 51-42 halftime lead against the New Jersey Nets.
In the second half, Bird returned and scored all 15 of his points, helping the Celtics widen their margin and go on to a 119-104 victory.
Robert Parish, the Celtics 7-foot center wound up doing most of the damage to the Nets by dropping in 29 points, grabbing 18 rebounds, and blocking 7 shots, all of them game highs. He led the Celtics to their thir d s traight victory, their 6th in the last 7 games and 14th in the last 1 7 before an appreciative crowd of 12,687.
''I have to give a lot of credit to the big guy back there for Boston,'' said Coach Kevin Loughery of the Nets, paying tribute to the man who almost by himself handed the last-place New Jersey team its 20th defeat in 31 games. ''Parish was the most intimidating factor I've seen in a long time. He was intimidating offensively and defensively.''
Celtics' Break Takes Over
The Nets were in the game and in the lead for the better part of the first seven minutes until Parish and the patented Celtic fast break took over.
At first the Nets slowed down their offense, which enabled them to move to leads of 10-6 with 8:18 to play and 13-8 with 7:35 remaining in the first period. Boston took the lead, 14-13, on 6 straight points, two free throws by Nate Archibald sandwiched between baskets by Parish and Cedric (Cornbread) Maxwell, but the Nets regained the advantage briefly on Mike O'Koren's layup with 4:24 left in the first period.
The next thing the Nets appeared to do right was to remove Bird from the Celtics offense with three personal fouls in the first four minutes of the game. The second-year forward out of Indiana State was forced to sit out most of the first half on a night when the first 10,000 fans in the Boston Garden got Larry Bird posters. Kevin McHale, the 6-10 rookie, replaced Bird.
''We played without Larry, but I thought we played well in the first half,'' said Coach Bill Fitch of the Celtics. ''We put in McHale; he's on a hot streak, and he's high in the confidence factor.
''Bird came back though in the second half, and I told him 'It's the sign of a real pro.''' said Fitch. ''He was filling the lane, and holding back as a safety, being very patient. He was pulling up like Sam Jones.'' Bird scored 15 points in 17 minutes when he returned.
Parish the Key Factor
''McHale is a good player, but he was not the factor tonight, Parish was,'' said Loughery. ''We tried to slow the game down in the beginning but in order for that to work you have to hit your shots and we didn't do that.''
The Nets outshot the Celtics in the first period, 44.4 to 41.6 percent, but they started to miss late in that period and in the second and third periods, and the Celtics started to sweep the defensive boards and exploit their fast break. To make matters worse, McHale blocked three shots and matched Parish's share of the 7 blocks by the Celtics in the first half. Boston took leads of 6, 11 and 20 points in the first, second and third periods, respectively, as both teams cleared their benches.
O'Koren was the high scorer for the Nets with 18 points, but he missed 10 of his 18 shots from the floor. And although his six steals were the most by anyone against the Celtics this season, they did not mean much in the outcome of the game.
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