Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 31 vs. the Knicks

Celtics (23-7) vs. Knicks (14-17)
December 15, 1979
Madison Square Garden

Though the Celtics were in a grueling stretch of basketball, timing was in their favor.  After catching Milwaukee twice during their losing streak, the Celtics focused their attention on Red Holzman’s Knicks.  The night before, New York hit a new low point, losing their fourth straight game to drop to three under .500.  To make matters worse, the loss was suffered in humiliating fashion across the Hudson to the New Jersey Nets.  Buoyed by an eight point fourth quarter by old friend Don Chaney, the Celtics kept their winning streak — and NY’s losing streak — alive to hold on in NYC to defeat the Knicks, 99-96.

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Chaney scored four of his eight in the last 22 seconds.  After a Chris Ford steal, Chaney hit the go-ahead hoop and then put the game away with two late free throws  to secure the C’s fourth straight win.  The victory also marked twelve out of the past fifteen for the Celtics.  After struggling with the Knicks earlier in the season, Larry Bird dropped 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field to go with 13 boards and three steals.  Bird fouled out late in the forth, which allowed for Chaney’s heroics.  Chaney, who won championships with the Celtics in 1969 and 1974, is the only player to ever play on the same team as Bill Russell and Larry Bird.

The Green Team overcame a ten-point deficit in the opening quarter and won despite allowing 10 more rebounds, as well as another dismal shooting performance from Dave Cowens.  Knicks rookie Bill Cartwright again had his way with the Celtics, shooting 70 percent from the field and getting to the line.  Tiny Archibald helped countered the Knicks’ offense, adding 19 points and 7 assists.  Rick Robey also came off the bench to add 11 points on Walt Frazier Night at MSG.

 

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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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