Bird Heating Up as Laker Tilt Looms

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February 3, 1982

Well, you know, he was kinda hard to ignore.

Larry Bird played 14 games in January, not including the All-Star Game, where he was the MVP. He averaged 26.9 points, 12.9 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.9 steals. He scored 40 points once and had over 30 on five other occasions.

So it did not exactly come as a complete shock when Bird was named yesterday as the NBA Player of the Month, beating out Gus Williams, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Alex English, Jay Vincent and John Long, most of whom should be immensely pleased just to be named in the same paragraph as Larry Bird, when it comes to discussing quality basketball players.

Which brings us to last night's game. The Bird stat line reads 43 minutes, 26 points (8-for-19 from the floor), 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and zero turnovers. It sounds nice, but what it added up to was a so-so Bird performance, a routine earn-the-paychec k night's work that nonetheless represented an achievement that could not have been matched for impact on the game by 95 percent of the game's players.


Russell v. Chamberlain, Only Different

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February 1, 1982

In the '60s, it was the preeminent rivalry in pro basketball. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain. No one will forget the wars those two goliaths waged, and it didn't seem to matter whether it was a regular-season game, a playoff or an All-Star game. Now in the '80s, one has to suspect that the rivalry between the Celtics' Larry Bird and the Lakers' Magic Johnson is just beginning to warm up, perhaps to Russell-Chamberlain proportions. True, Bird is a forward and Johnson primarily plays guard, but their all-round skills are remarkably similar.

Reports of his Demise have been Premature

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January 14, 1980

He's no longer the basketball phenom, a teenaged Mt. Everest who left New York City and found fame in the Golden West. He's 32 years old now, in his 11th NBA season, and if you sit in the balcony and look down, the bald spot on top of his head stands out like runway 4R at Logan. He has played more than 800 pro games, taken a million elbows in the ribs and perhaps dished out two million.


21-0 Run Spells Doom for Celtics

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January 14, 1980

A majestic basketball game deserves a more fitting climax than a questionable call that places a man on the foul line with the score tied and three seconds remaining - for being fouled on the passoff.

And yet the fact that it was two foul shots by Norm Nixon, and not, say, a sweeping hook by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or an up-fake jumper by Jamaal Wilkes (or even one of Nixon's artful drives) that decided yesterday's Celtic-Laker extravaganza hardly diminished the impact of this superb contest. It's just that it would have been nice to end the proceedings without controversy.


Cooper Stifles Bird

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Los Angeles Lakers

31-15 (Won 2)
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Boston Celtics

32-11 (Lost 1)
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January 13, 1980

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In the first Lakers-Celtics game it was Jamaal Wilkes' defense that stymied Larry Bird. This time the defensive effort was provided by Michael Cooper.

Wilkes Stifles Bird

Boston Celtics

28-9 (Lost 1)
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Los Angeles Lakers

27-13 (Won 2)
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December 28, 1979
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All things considered, the Celtics could have been a lot worse off than a 61-52 halftime deficit.

They had fallen behind by as many as 13 points (50-37), 52-39) before a run of eight straight got them within four points. And they even were four down with the ball when Rick Robey missed a fast-break flip and then compounded the felony by committing a loose-ball foul on the rebound. The Lakers took full advantage of this turn of events by boosting the lead back to the halftime spread behind five late points by Jim Chones.


Grampa Celtic: 04-05 is Better than it's Been


Memo to all you fallen-away Celtics fans: It's better. They lost a 100-99 decision to the Nuggets at the Fleet last night, but I'm telling you, it's still better.

I didn't say it's great, or that you should consider burning your precious tapes of the 1986 team, or that Ricky Davis is ever going to replace John Havlicek in your heart, but compared with the way it's been around here the past 12 years or so - and, yes, that includes that bizarre little march to the Eastern Conference finals with the bombs away squad - the basketball being offered by what is now nauseatingly referred to by the public address announcer as your Boston Celtics is far more entertaining than it's been since the Big Three were in their dotage and Reggie Lewis was torturing rival guards.


Stewart Healthy as Horse Despite Stint on Injured List


 Last night marked the first anniversary of Danny Ainge's bold, six-player trade with Cleveland in which Ricky Davis was the obvious attraction. The move generated plenty of controversy at the time, eventually cost the Celtics the services of Jim O'Brien and Dick Harter, ended a five-game winning streak, and now only Davis remains on the active roster of either team.


Celtics Finish Road Trip on Two-Game Win Streak

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LOS ANGELES - As the end of regulation neared Monday night at Staples Center, a visiting scout watched coach Doc Rivers go through a series of fiery paroxysms and asked, "Is Doc always this emotional?" Yes, but as Rivers watched the Celtics rally from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit, his display was clearly different.


Ainge Goes Heinsohn on Refs in Celtics Win

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LOS ANGELES - After five games spread over nine days of travel up and down the West Coast, the Celtics returned to Boston early this morning a changed team. The proof came last night against the Clippers at the Staples Center, where they pulled out a huge double overtime win, 134-127. This was not the same team that earlier on the trip had trouble executing down the stretch. With clutch baskets and free throws from Ricky Davis (34 points) at the end of regulation and OT, a big-time 3-pointer by Gary Payton in the first overtime, and another by Jiri Welsch late in the second OT among the highlights, the Celtics showed they could compete at the end of a tightly contested game. And they did it all without Paul Pierce, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.


Celtics' Defense Coming Alive

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December 13, 2004

LOS ANGELES - After 14-plus years in the NBA, Gary Payton is an unapologetic realist. He has no use for morale-boosting optimism.

So, when asked what the Celtics' 98-84 win over the Sonics meant, he said, "One game, one game, one game."


Odds and Ends

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It's better to look ahead these days if you're a Celtics fan. It's much more preferable than trying to remember the 40-something-win teams of 2001-02 and 2002-03, let alone the Glory Days.

The 2004-05 Celtics are rebuilding. They don't want to say it, but that's what they're doing. All you have to do is watch.


17-3 Sonics Fall to Celts

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SEATTLE - The sun shined brightly in Seattle yesterday, making it the only non-rainy, non-overcast day so far on the Celtics' West Coast trip. And no one seemed the least bit surprised. The Sonics, who went into last night tied for the best record in the NBA at 17-3, have reminded people here to expect the unexpected.


Celtics Surprise Seattle

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SEATTLE - Let's hear it for the little guy.

Able to match up effectively with the also smallish Sonics, the Celtics swept the season series against Seattle with a 98-84 win last night at Key Arena. It was an impressive accomplishment considering Seattle entered last night's contest at Key Arena as arguably the hottest team in the NBA and had not lost a home game this season. Boston won by playing a complete game and holding Seattle to 33 percent shooting from the floor, including an uncharacteristic 21 percent (5 for 24) from 3-point range.


Da Glove Goes Home while Fortson Faces Off against Former Team

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SEATTLE - While the Sonics' 3-point shooters garner much of the attention, a player who has not attempted a single shot from the arc may be the biggest difference-maker. With his physical play and tenacious rebounding, one-time Celtic Danny Fortson has brought toughness and energy to the Sonics' second unit. Celtics coach Doc Rivers called Fortson a "lightning rod" and thought the acquisition of the power forward represented the Sonics' best offseason move.


Rivers Encouraged Despite Skid

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SEATTLE - While dealing with a three-game losing streak on the West Coast, the Celtics enjoyed the benefits of youth yesterday.

   It may take time for younger players - coach Doc Rivers includes Paul Pierce, Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch, Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins, and the rookies in that category - to make progress and break bad habits. But they tend to have short memories and great resiliency. That may explain why, in the wake of a last-second 89-87 loss Thursday to the Trail Blazers, the Celtics were far from depressed at practice at Seattle Pacific University yesterday.


Celtics' Second Unit Impressing

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WALTHAM - The education continues for the Celtics' second unit, primarily a collection of young, athletic, and energetic players taking a survey course in NBA basketball with every game. With midterms still months away, the reserves have proven themselves quick studies.


Odds and Ends

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PORTLAND, Ore. - Noticing a photo of Zach Randolph over his right shoulder during his pregame press conference last night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked, "That guy's good. I hope he doesn't play."

   Needless to say, the Celtics had no such luck when it came to the durable power forward.

"Amazing" was the word Rivers and Portland coach Maurice Cheeks used to describe Randolph. What else can you say about a player who entered last night averaging 21.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, who plans to add All-Star honors to his 2003-04 Most Improved Player Award, and who hopes to lead his team into the playoffs.


Abdur-Rahim Sinks Celts

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PORTLAND, Ore. - The Celtics have suffered more than their fair share of deja vu this season. Last night at the Rose Garden, it came mixed with an unfortunate dose of dramatic irony. Shareef Abdur-Rahim hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left wing, giving Portland an 89-87 win in a game that was close from start to finish.


Mr. Marcus is a Tad Unpredictable

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PORTLAND, Ore. - The NBA education of Marcus Banks continues to be an unpredictable process. While the second-year point guard says all the right things about learning the game, being patient, and earning the trust of his teammates, his words often translate inconsistently into action. Unquestionably gifted athletically, it remains to be seen whether Banks has the physical and mental abilities to succeed as a professional.


Rivers: It Starts with Stops

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OAKLAND, Calif. - Doc Rivers was on the defensive following practice yesterday at The Arena, though purely in a basketball sense, which had nothing to do with the frustrations of Paul Pierce or the ongoing constructive criticism of Gary Payton.

Rivers expects Pierce and the rest of the Celtics to be frustrated by recent losses to the Kings and Warriors. He welcomes the observations of Payton. If Rivers had one complaint, it was that the Celtics are not as defensive-minded as he would like.


Red Holds Court

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WALTHAM - He is an 87-year-old man with a cane and a cigar, and the clout of a king.

Red Auerbach is in the house, holding court, and the Celtics' four rookies hang on every word. The combined ages of Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Tony Allen, and Justin Reed do not even add up to 87 years. They are so green that West asked team officials if he still gets paid now that he's on the injured list. These Celtics may be young and hip and rich and spoiled too cool for school, but they know a legend when they see one.


Pierce is Frustrated

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OAKLAND, Calif. - When asked to rate his level of frustration on a scale from 1 to 10 following Monday's 110-106 loss to the Warriors, Paul Pierce said, with little hesitation, "10." Given the circumstances, it was an understandable answer.


D-Fish Still a Thorn in Celtics' Side

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OAKLAND, Calif. - During his years with the Lakers, Derek Fisher became synonymous with late-game heroics. With Fisher having taken his act north, the theatrics took on a twist last night in the Warriors' 110-106 win over the Celtics, though he still played a major role in the decisive basket.


Raef is No Pervis

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Raef LaFrentz can talk all he wants about how good his surgically repaired right knee feels. He can put all kinds of percentages on his recovery/comeback. He can liken his agility on the court to how it was before the operation.


Bill Walton Disc Jockey?

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THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED Add disc jockey to former Celtic Bill Walton 's list of accomplishments. The man in the middle during the C's 1986 championship run is host of a new show on Sirius Satellite Radio called "One More Saturday Night With Bill Walton." (The show, which premiered over the weekend, airs Saturdays from 9 to midnight.) As you could have guessed, Big Red spins a lot of Grateful Dead, with a few '60s icons Neil Young , the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan   thrown in. The only person inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Grateful Dead's Hall of Honor said his mantra is "too much of everything is just enough." "I play what I want," he said. (The inaugural show was dedicated to Frank Rich of The New York Times, who Walton believes has a rare ability to "tie it all together . . . I'm a huge believer in the intergalactic relationship of sports, politics, business, music, and the world.") So did the big guy ever take his Celtics teammates to see the Dead at the Garden? "Yeah. We all met at Larry [ Bird 's] house," he said. "We all went except for Danny [ Ainge ]  his wife wouldn't let him go."


C's Blow 20-Point Lead, Lose by 14

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SACRAMENTO - Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows the first game of an extended West Coast swing can set the tone for the entire trip. Boston can only hope its 119-105 loss to the Kings last night does not set a pattern for the remaining four games on the itinerary. Otherwise, the trip might seem a lot longer than the scheduled nine days.


Bird, Carlisle, and Patchwork Pacers Push On

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The flashy, splashy "Official Guide and Register" from the National Basketball Development League arrived this past week. Funny, though, there was one team missing: the Indiana Pacers.

   Did you happen to see the Pacers' box score from last Wednesday night? It's a keeper.


9-Day Road Trip to Test Up and Down Celtics

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SACRAMENTO - In a season with very few certainties, Celtics coach Doc Rivers knew he could count on two things in the upcoming weeks.

   First, he predicted Boston would find itself on a roll. In late November games against Miami and Orlando, he sensed the team coming together, playing with better effort and improved execution. And indeed the Celtics are on a three-game winning streak.Second, he saw a five-game West Coast swing looming as one of the toughest challenges on the schedule. The Green arrived in Sacramento yesterday, ready to start their longest trip (nine days) of the season.


Rivers: Winning Ugly is still Winning


Before last night's game, Doc Rivers spoke of his team's tough win 48 hours earlier against the Milwaukee Bucks. What made it special, he suggested, was that the Celtics had managed a victory despite not playing very well.

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