February 16, 1991
CELTICS' DAZZLE FRAZZLES LAKERS
Something special is happening out here. The Celtics are three time zones away and doing some eerie things while most of New England sleeps.
Last night they went into the Forum and won for the first time in five years. They got a season-high 29 points from Robert Parish, 26 from Reggie Lewis and solid defense from everyone in a 98-85 stunner before Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon and 17,503 others.
To give you an idea of how convincing this one was, the Lakers led for all of 22 seconds -- at 6-4 -- in the building where they had won 14 straight. Not only that, but the Lakers managed a meager 13 points on 4-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Chris Ford's reenergized juggernaut has now won six straight, including all three on this trip. Last night was only their second regular-season victory over the Lakers in their last 10 meetings and more than atoned for a 104-87 defeat to Magic Johnson & Co. on Super Bowl Sunday.
"Give them credit. They played a great game," Magic said. "The whole night, I never really thought we got into a rhythm."
To add to the strange mix, the Celtics again were without Kevin McHale (ankle), who had to restrain himself in the locker room while the surprising triumph unfolded. They are 2-0 without McHale, who quite likely won't play tomorrow in Denver.
Larry Bird had an atrocious shooting game (4 for 16) and had only one basket in the final 33 minutes. But, typically, it was a big one. He drained a trey which gave Boston a 92-81 lead and all but ended any Laker hopes. Bird managed a triple-double, getting 11s across the board in 40 minutes.
"I was tired out there, so I tried to distribute the ball as best I could," Bird said. "We just went to the hot man and kept going to him."
The hot men? Start with the Chief. Parish delivered a first quarter right out of the Chamberlain handbook. He was 9 for 10 from the field after missing his first shot, scoring a staggering 21 points. Predictably, he tailed off, but he was an inside force all night (10 rebounds and 2 blocks).
Lewis took over after a scoreless first quarter, punctuating his output with two Forum-clearing jumpers in the fourth quarter.
It was Parish, however, who set the tone, and the Celtics rarely wavered from it all game. He had the first 5 points of an early 9-0 run which erased the only Laker lead of the game.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, was resigned to looking a lot like the old Celtics. Magic (21 points, 16 assists) would dump it in to James Worthy (23 points) and the rest of the Lakers would settle into their lawn chairs and watch.
The Celtics' faced two semi-serious Laker thrusts after bolting to a 35-27 one-period lead. They went cold early in the second and LA actually tied it, 39-39, on a jump hook by an injured and ineffective Sam Perkins (7 points in 24 minutes).
But Boston regrouped and Kevin Gamble (14) and Lewis took over. They scored the final 19 of Boston's 23 second-quarter points. At the half, the Boston lead was 11.
Everyone from Malibu to Thousand Oaks could have predicted a Lakers surge in the third. They hit their first five shots and pulled to 62-57. Ford called time and Boston responded with a Lewis-led 7-1 run. The lead was back to 11.
The Lakers' last real challenge came late in the third. An A.C. Green put-back made it 75-72.
But Ed Pinckney then came up with two big plays. He rebounded one of many Bird bricks, which led to a Lewis banker. At the other end, he swallowed a Perkins drive and that led to another Lewis hoop. Gamble then finished off the mini-run -- all this happened in the final 49 seconds -- with a steal and two free throws. The lead was 81-72 after three.
Los Angeles never got closer than 6 in the fourth. It made only one basket in the final 7:32. Gamble launched a game-deciding 11-2 run with a lefty drive and the spurt included Bird's big trey and Lewis' two hoops, which gave the beautiful people the excuse they needed to leave early.