Riles Reacts to Cunningham's Resignation

May 29, 1985

Section: SPORTS


Ian Thomsen, Globe Staff and Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff

Lakers coach Pat Riley was not surprised with colleague Billy Cunningham's resignation yesterday from the 76ers.

"He's eight years in one place and he's had a great, great coaching career," Riley said. "He's won more games faster than anyone . . . and obviously he was never getting the credit he deserved as a coach.

"The coach of the Lakers, 76ers and Celtics will never be Coach of the Year - and they all win 60 games. We all have the best talent, we're supposed to win those games - it (supposedly) doesn't take as much to win with those players.

"Well, maybe there's more of a challenge of coaching those players than guys you can just ride roughshod over. I don't mind. I think I get enough recognition and credit for not getting enough credit."

Scribes from Detroit and Philadelphia believe that Chuck Daly will be the next coach of the 76ers.

One can argue that the Celtics have established some dominance over LA since the middle of Game 4 of last year's finals. The Celtics won Games 4, 5 and 7, and Riley said afterward, "We only played one half of basketball in those last three games." The Celtics split two games with the Lakers during the 1984-85 regular season, losing in LA by six as Robert Parish sat out the second half with a turned ankle . . . Boston's 148-point total Monday was the highest-scoring game by a Celtics team in 15 years. The Celts scored 153 against the Baltimore Bullets on Nov. 27, 1970 . . . It was the Lakers' worst loss of the season and worst ever in a championship series, and only their fourth opening-game loss in their last 18 series . . . Statistical oddity: The Celtics shot .778 (7 of 9) from the three-point area, but only .680 (17-25) from the free-throw line . . . The Lakers shot under 50 percent (49 of 100) for the second time in 14 playoff games . . . Understated Byron Scott, after watching game films, said: "I don't think the effort was really there. We didn't communicate on defense. We wanted to double and in some cases we ended up triple-teaming players." . . . Riley said the Celtics executed their offense better in the second half. "They didn't run a lot (of set offense) in the first half," he said. "It was a lot of transition."

Larry Bird was a unanimous selection to the NBA's All-League team. He was named to the first team on all 78 ballots. He is expected to be named MVP for the second straight year next Monday in Los Angeles . . . K.C. Jones on the shooting of Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson: "Cleveland totally insulted (Ainge) and Dennis. Our guards weren't shooting that well from the outside, but they really came together in the last two or three games against Detroit.". . . Ainge worked out lightly yesterday because of a slight groin pull, but expects no problems tomorrow night . . . Each of the first 10 Lakers is still shooting better than 50 percent in the playoffs . . . LA has not lost two straight since leaving Boston Jan. 16 . . . Bird has scored under 20 points in three straight games for the first time this season . . . The Celtics are 9-0 in Garden playoff games this year, 12-0 over two seasons, and have won 21 of their last 22. Boston's only home playoff loss in the last two springs was Game 1 vs. LA last year . . . Portland forward Kiki Vandeweghe is in Boston, reporting on the series for an LA television station . . . Channel 4 did a live interview with Kurt Rambis last night. He closed with a "Hi, Jeanne" to co-anchor Jeanne Blake, a close friend.

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