The streaking Boston Celtics increased their lead in the NBA Atlantic Division to six and a half games with a smashing 119-97 victory over the second place and defending world champion New York Knicks last night at the Boston Garden.
The victory, the 14th in the last 15 games for the Celtics, was spearheaded by captain John Havlicek who totaled 25 points for the evening.
The Celtics jumped out to a 52-41 halftime lead behind the shooting of Havlicek and forward Paul Silas. The usually hot shooting Knicks were noticeably cold from the field in the first two periods. The Knicks connected on only 6 of 21 shots in the second quarter.
New York was severely hampered by the absence of center and captain Willis Reed. Without Reed, Celtic center Dave Cowens and sidekick Silas completely dominated the backboards at both ends of the court. Silas finished the night with 18 points while Cowens chipped in with 16.
The game remained surprisingly close through most of three quarters. The shooting of Phil Jackson and Bill Bradley helped draw the Knciks to within four points late in third period. Silas and Cowens then went to work for the Celtics, however, and Boston increased its lead to 79-69 by the end of the stanza.
Boston broke the game open midway through the final period.