Celtics (11-3) vs. Jazz (2-15)
Friday, November 16
The pre-Jerry Sloan Jazz were no pretty sight. Coach Tom Nissalke’s team was bad right from the stretch: Utah dropped its first four games, losing the first by 16, the second by 31, and the third by another 15 points. The team would finish 2-18 in the month of October, with the only victories coming at the expense of the San Diego Clippers (who were missing Bill Walton, whose injury situation will be covered when the Celtics travel to San Diego in December) and an eight point win over Sloan’s Bulls.
The Celtics would do the Jazz no favors, coasting to their eighth win in the previous nine games with a 113-97 win in front of 15,320 at the Garden. The Jazz had a couple of recognizable names of the roster, as both Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich were among their starting five. Bernard King, in just his second year out of the University of Tennessee, was injured but on the roster. The Celts dominated in almost every area: they attacked the basket, hitting 29-of-38 free throw attempts while the Jazz only attempted 17 (Red must have been pleased with the performance of official Ed T. Rush, who had recently returned to the NBA from his stint in the ABA). The Celtics attempted six fewer shots than the Jazz but still collected six more offensive rebounds, and dominated the defensive boards, 38-25. Six Celtics scored double-digits, with Cedric Maxell (shooting 7-for-9 and still leading the league in field goal percentage) finishing with a team-high 27. Adrian Dantley had a nice individual night for the Jazz, but his 32 points didn’t do much as the C’s outscored their opponent, 37-21, to put the game on ice in the third quarter. After recording his the first triple-double of his career just two nights prior, Larry Bird just missed doing it again. He put together a line of 12 points, 15 boards, and 9 assists. Bird and Tiny Archibald combined for 20 assists and only 4 turnovers. Off the bench, Jeff Judkins contributed 10 points while Rick Robey added 7 boards. The game marked the Celtics fifth home sellout in seven games, and Bill Fitch kept his starting five the same (Archibald, Ford, Bird, Maxwell, Cowens) the same for the fifteenth consecutive game. Only one three-pointer was attempted in 48 minutes of play.
Before we end with the box score, attached are the first three pages of Topps’ 1979-80 set of NBA cards. Bird and Magic were not featured, but in return, the NBA asked Topps to capture as many of the players out-of-focus and out-of-frame as possible. Cowens, Dennis Johnson, and Scott Wedman will are among the first seven cards of the set. Though there is no direct tie to the Celtics, Henry Bibby (Henry is Mike Bibby’s father; Mike was booed every time he touched the ball in the 2008 playoffs for calling Celtics fans “bandwagoners”) and his receding afro are also prominently featured, along with Jo Jo White in a Warriors uniform.