Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 10 vs. the Bullets

Celtics vs. Bullets
November 3, 1979
Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland

Unlike the current Boston Celtics, the 1979-80 team entered November on a high.  Unlike the current team, who has only played twice so far this season, the Celtics tipped off their 10th game 33 years ago tonight,

The Washington Bullets, the reigning back-to-back Eastern Conference champions and the last team to win the title from the East, were in for a stern lesson.  Playing at home, in the friendly confines of the Capital Centre in front of a crowd of 17,635, the Boston Celtics made an emphatic statement: the Bullets were no longer elite.  The Celtics, however, were on their way to becoming the best team in the East.

On the tail end of a six-game road trip, the C’s won their fourth consecutive game, destroying the Bullets, 118-97.  A two-point halftime lead swelled dramatically, thanks to the Celtics outscoring Washington by 29 points in the second half.  The win left the Celtics only a half-game behind the 76ers, who also picked up a road win, theirs a double-overtime win over the Pacers in Indiana.  Though Washington’s old guard still contributed — Greg Ballard finished with 23 points, Bobby Dandridge with 20, and Elvin Hayes with 19/12 — they were no match for the NBA’s most sensational rookie:

 

Larry Bird, still seeking his first career triple-double, finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.  Performing so well in a game against a successful, seasoned club like the Bullets, turned into a nice building block in Bird’s NBA portfolio.  Bobby Dandridge, a two-time NBA champion and still a worthy candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame, covered the Soon-to-be-Legend throughout the night, but Bird still finished with a solid all-around night.  Cedric Maxwell also had a fantastic night, willing his way to the free throw line all night.  He finished with 24 points, 12 of those off free throws (finishing 6-6 from the field and forcing Elvin Hayes to foul out), and Dave Cowens used the rest from the Nets game to pour in 20 points and pick up 8 boards and 7 assists.  Tiny Archibald also had himself a night with 16 points and 9 assists (with only one turnover), and M.L. Carr continued to prove his worth 14 points, 5 boards, and 4 assists off the bench.  For good measure, Bill Fitch picked up a technical foul mid-way through the second quarter.

Bullets/Spurs 1979 Game 7 recap, featuring Brent Musburger

The Bullets were no slouch, moving onto win five of their next six.  As for the Celtics, they returned home the following Wednesday to the Garden for a rematch with George “The Iceman” Gervin and his San Antonio Spurs.

 

NBA SCORES: Saturday, November 3, 1979

  • Atlanta (110) vs. New Jersey (107)
  • Milwaukee (136) vs. Chicago (134)
  • Cleveland (123) vs. New York (110)
  • Houston (114) vs. Detroit (111)
  • Golden State (130) vs. Denver (103)     (16 points for Jo Jo White, 13 for the Chief)
  • Philadelphia (120) vs. Indiana (114)  2OT
  • San Diego (126) vs. Utah (109)
  • BOSTON (118) vs. Washington (97)

Random Quote

Yikes. Way above my intellectual capacity.

— Nick Cafardo, Boston.com Red Sox Mailbag 2/19/13