Bird’s Rookie Year – Game 22 vs. the Pacers

Celtics (17-4) vs. Pacers (11-15)
Saturday, December 1
Market Square Arena

Regardless of a pedestrian record, playing the Pacers in Market Square Arena was a tough spot for the Celtics to win.  Unlike their date in October, Larry Bird made sure this homecoming to Indiana ended on a more successful note.  The Celtics defeated Indiana in overtime, 106-102, to win their sixth straight game and remain top the Eastern Conference standings.  This game was the second time the Celts had played in OT this season, both taking place at Market Square Arena.

Bird chipped in a double-double with 13 boards and 15 points with 6-of-16 shooting, and unlike the game the prior night, worked his way to the free throw line and hit 75% of his attempts.  Cedric Maxwell enjoyed a sensational night.  He dominated the low post with 19 points and 17 rebounds just one night after attempting only three field goals.  Maxwell consistently sacrificed his offensive output as soon as Bird arrived in Boston, but he still had the capability to take over games when necessary.  Tiny Archibald also rebounded from a slow night against the Knicks to collect 11 assists to along with 14 points.  A night after the starting five struggled and the C’s really needed to showcase its depth to beat New York, it was all about the starters in Indiana.  Chris Ford kept his hot streak alive too, as the first five for the Green scored 88 of the team’s 106 points.

A Dave Cowens story from a 2000 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted some of Cowens’ quirks, which includes announcing his retirement (thankfully for the Celtics, it wasn’t this night) in Indiana:

Off the court, Cowens has stretched in more directions than a wad of Silly Putty.

Who has attended an auto mechanics class during his second season — until Boston boss Red Auerbach suggested he quit — and often would arrive at Boston Garden with grease lodged beneath his fingernails?

Who has announced his retirement on a team bus in Indiana (after crafting his own news release) and accepted a job as the athletic director of a 900-student, all-women’s college in Weston, Mass.?

Who has dabbled in politics, pined to be a county sheriff in his native Kentucky, served as chairman of a sports museum and president of an insurance group, and turned over the keys of the 1964 Mercury Comet he had just bought to a hitchhiker?

Who has slept on a park bench after his team won an NBA championship, bragged about his mastery of shuffleboard and assisted stranded motorists during a snowstorm?

Who has attempted to learn sign language, conked Larry Bird in the head with a snowball, lived in a converted bathhouse in his early playing days, run his own basketball camp every year since 1972 . . .?

Dave Cowens has.

On this night, Cowens filled a familiar role and led the Celtics with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Paced by Mickey Johnson’s 32 point scoring outburst, Indiana was able to build its biggest lead of the night, leading 50-43, with just over three and a half minutes to play in the first half.  The Celtics stormed back and controlled the flow of the game in the third, ultimately building their biggest lead at 11, 73-62, with 5:26 remaining.  The Pacers held the C’s to only 13 points in the fourth, and a back-and-forth game with 18 ties and 15 lead changes came to an end when the Celtics outscored the Pacers, 14-10, in the extra frame.  Future Celtics-assistant (under Rick Pitino) John Kuester dressed for Indiana, but did not see any game action (Kuester, most recently seen as head coach of the Detroit Pistons, also served as an assistant for Pitino at Boston University before becoming the youngest Division 1 head coach at 25 with George Washington).

The Celtics returned to action for a third consecutive night with a game in Kansas City against the Kings on Sunday night.

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.

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