Bird’s Rookie Year — Game Nine vs. the Nets

Celtics vs. Nets
October 31, 1979
Wednesday – Rutgers Athletic Center

Halloween in Piscataway is normally not described as a “treat,” and that was no different in 1979.  The Celtics, however, dished out all the tricks to a New Jersey Nets team already in shambles, arriving at the Rutgers Athletic Center looking to keep pace with the undefeated 76ers in the standings.  The six game road trip was mercifully coming to an end, and after a sluggish start in Indiana and San Antonio, the Celtics looked to win their third straight game on the road.

NJ (2-6) entered the contest with a little momentum, defeating Houston to end a six game losing streak.  The C’s struck early, going straight for the jugular, allowing only 11 first quarter points and leading by 21 after twelve minutes of play.  The lead grew to 24 by the half, 32 at the end of the three, and the Celtics finished with a 37-point victory, their largest margin of victory — and lowest amount of points allowed — of the season.

Larry Bird continued his phenomenal rookie season with an 18/7/6 assault, while Cedric Maxwell completely dominated the Nets with 25 points, 12 boards, and 8 (8!) assists.  Rick Robey, who had just bought a house with his wife in Hingham that summer, continued to make an impact as well, adding 11/9.  Only 15 minutes of play came to Dave Cowens, who received some rest, and Chris Ford contributed 13 points and 5 assists in his homecoming to New Jersey.

For those keeping score, the Nets were whistled for the game’s only 3-second violation.

The Celtics returned to action on Saturday to wrap up the road trip in Washington.

UPDATED STANDINGS THROUGH OCTOBER 31, 1979

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division
1.  Philadelphia 76ers (8-1, though about to drop to 8-2 after consecutive losses, one at home and the other on the road, to Hubie Brown’s Hawks — who would have thought the NBA and Hockey East had something in common with these home-and-away series?)
2.  Boston Celtics (7-2)
3.  New York Knickerbockers (5-5)
4.  Washington Bullets (3-5)
5.  New Jersey Nets (2-7)

Central Division

1.  San Antonio Spurs (6-3)
2.  Atlanta Hawks (6-5)
3.  Indiana Pacers (5-6)
4.  Detroit Pistons (4-5, but coached — until his firing on November 8 — by Dickie V, baby!)
5.  Cleveland Cavaliers (3-8)
6.  Houston Rockets (2-7, though about to rip off a 7-game winning streak)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Midwest Division
1.  Milwaukee Bucks (9-1, a league-best, and about to reel off their tenth straight victory — also drafted Sidney Moncrief, who was this close to going to the Lakers on draft day)
2.  Kansas City Kings (5-5, and wouldn’t move to Sacramento until 1985)
3.  Chicago Bulls (3-8, coached by Bulls great Jerry Sloan — and still reeling after the career-ending injury of everything-guard Ken Reeves)
4.  Utah Jazz (2-7)
5.  Denver Nuggets (2-8, coached by longtime Pacers/Knicks executive Donnie Walsh)

                                                                                                                     Donnie Walsh

Pacific Division
1.  Portland Trailblazers (9-2 after opening the season with nine straight victories)
2.  Los Angeles Lakers (7-3, featuring, of course, a game-changing rookie out of Michigan State)
3.  Phoenix Suns (7-4)
4.  Seattle Supersonics (5-5)
5.  Golden State Warriors (5-5, featuring multiple Celtics connections with Jo Jo White, Robert Parish, and future Celtics assistant coach Clifford Ray all on the roster)
6.  San Diego Clippers (4-7, and already missing star Bill Walton, who went onto play only 14 games after missing the entire ’78′-’79 season)

About Justin Barrasso

Justin Barrasso has worked in the Boston sports scene in various different capacities since 2001, including writing for the Boston Herald and WEEI.com.

  • Dan

    Felger is on one of his patented racist/NBA rants this afternoon. He even through in the “T” word today(thugs) for good measure. More of the usual “that league” and the white hockey guys are tougher rant today. What this has to do with anything is beyond me but Felger is feeling it pretty good right. Which all makes me wonder how Callahan takes as much crap as he does when clearly Felger is way more racist and subversive about than Callahan. It’s just so clear to me that Felger doesn’t hate the actual sport of basketball it’s that he hates the “kind” of people who are playing it.

    • bsmfan

      Wow.

      Felger gets called a bit on this board and elsewhere but dropping the r-word is a first. Also, if you’re going to try calling someone racist, you might want to have a modicum of truth to the claim. Granted, thanks to race-baiters like Jemele Hill, Rob Parker, Jason Whitlock, Bomani Jones, you can get away with this garbage in journalism, what you’re saying above is complete bs.

      First, did you just tune-in or not realize that Felger has said this for the 3+ years he’s been on the air at TSH? I would not be surprised if he’s said the same exact thing for even longer in his radio time. Felger is a puckhead. He’s not a fan of the NBA. His fandom has everything to do with the sport/cultures itself and absolutely nothing to do with “racism” or “skin color”. If his argument were so “racist”, his producer, TSH’s brass and even CBS would have either told him to stop or fired him. Do you see an outlet like CBS supporting such a thing? I don’t. That, alone, should be a non-starter for the argument.

      Second, did Felger ever say that his fandom/rant has anything to do with skin color? Nope. Never has. If you’re so jaded and warped that making an argument in favor of the NHL because it happens to be “mainly white”, you’ve got more problems than just thinking Felger is racist. Many fans of the sport feel the same. People who run their mouth in the NHL have to account for, at some point, what they say. It’s about accountability within the culture since hockey does allow fighting. He’s not a fan of the NBA because you can run your mouth and can’t do anything about it.

      Third, lets also bring up what Felger has said as reasons he enjoys the NHL but also the NFL: thoughness. We learned that Mankins played through a partially-torn ACL last year. He’s always commended all players in each league for what they play through, whereas complained about the injuries that “sideline” both NBA and MLB players. That racist? Nobody can argue that NFL/NHL players usually are the most banged up/injured due to the nature of their sport and also have to play through many injuries.

      Felger might be the brunt of many criticisms on here but he’s not racist.

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