Suns Down C's in Exhibition Opener

1983-84 Boston Celtics

No, this doesn't mean the Celtics can't win without Robert Parish. Don't panic and/or beg Red Auerbach to cave in and start singing "Hail to the Chief." The Celtics lost to the Phoenix Suns, 117-114, on the Arizona State campus last night because coach K.C. Jones was willing to do what Ralph Houk wouldn't do - give the kids a shot.

Against Phoenix' formidable starting five, Jones had at least three rookies on the floor for the entire final quarter. Carlos Clark (seven points) and John Schweitz showed some cool and Greg Kite (nine fouls and no points in two games) banged around underneath, but it wasn't enough to overcome the high-wire act of Larry Nance (25 points), or the sledgehammer tactics of Maurice Lucas (17 points).

Phoenix led, 113-106, wih 2:25 left, but Scott Wedman (16 points, 7 of 10 from the floor), Charles Bradley and Clark led a late drive by the Celtics. With Phoenix leading by one point in the closing seconds, Kite rebounded a Walter Davis miss and fed Clark near midcourt. Clark hesitated, then double-dribbled. "Carlos got a little overanxious," said Jones. "But that's going to happen with a rookie."

Two free throws by Davis set the final score. The Celtics led for most of the first half thanks to a stellar effort by Larry Bird. Bird scored 20 of his team-high 22 in the first half and brought everyone out of their seats with a dazzling, 360-degree spinning layup in traffic. In 25 minutes, Bird had seven rebounds and eight assists. Kevin McHale played 27 minutes at center and scored 14 with four rebounds.

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