Celtics Capture Game 3
BOSTON--The Boston Celtics, after falling meekly in their last six road games, grew teeth again at Boston Garden yesterday.
The Celtics slowed the Los Angeles running game, holding the Lakers to six fast-break baskets, and won Game 3 of the NBA championship series, 109-103. Boston got 30 points and 12 rebounds from Larry Bird and 26 points from Dennis Johnson in the victory, which left the Lakers still leading the NBA finals 2-1.
"We did a great job of getting back on defense and slowing their break," Celtics Coach K.C. Jones said. "We had to come up with our best game of disciplined offense."
The Celtics, losers of six straight road playoff games by an average deficit of nearly 16 points, won for the 85th time in their last 87 games at Boston Garden.
Los Angeles had scored 267 points in their two wins at the Forum to open the best-of-seven series, scoring close to half of their points with a running attack.
Boston had never led past the first quarter in either loss, but they never trailed in the second half yesterday once they zeroed in on their home baskets.
"The mystique didn't beat us, the Celtics did," Lakers Coach Pat Riley said. "If the ball's going through [the basket] like that for you, it's going to be difficult for us to run."
The Celtics shot close to 50 percent from the field for the game, but they were 34-for-61 (55.7 percent) after the first quarter, when they trailed 29-22. The Lakers, after making 58.4 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first two games, shot 49.4 percent yesterday, but took five fewer shots than Boston.
"We didn't play like we did in L.A.," said Lakers forward James Worthy, who had 13 points after scoring at least 23 in the previous seven playoff games. "Somewhere at the last of the first quarter, we got into their tempo of game. We've got to get back to what we do best--run."
Typifying the Celtics' Jekyll-Hyde performance on the road and at home was reserve center Greg Kite, who had a crowd-pleasing blocked shot against Magic Johnson and nine rebounds yesterday after totaling 30 rebounds in 16 previous playoff games.
"He came in and gave them a lot of inspiration," Worthy said of Kite, who helped the Celtics build a 56-41 rebounding advantage.
"This gives us a little bit of life, almost like CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]," Kite said.
Bird said the Celtics played better defense in Game 3 than they did in the first two games of the series.
"We covered up for each other a little better than we had in the past," he said. "Any time you play at home, you're going to be more active. It's very frustrating to go on the road and get beat two times."
The Lakers seemed poised for a series sweep and the most successful run in NBA playoff history, but the Celtics rebounded to get back into the race for their 17th championship.