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)

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.