Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 58 vs. the TrailBlazers

Celtics (43-14) vs. Portland (27-32)
February 15, 1980
Memorial Coliseum

The Celtics recovered from a loss in Phoenix with a 106-91 triumph in Portland.  Boston built an 11-point lead by the half and cruised to their eighth win in the previous nine games.  Following up from his 45-point outburst against the Suns, Larry Bird led the C’s with 28 points and 15 rebounds.

Bob Ryan detailed the victory in the February 16, 1980 edition of the Boston Globe:

Piece of cake. Can of corn.  Day at the beach.  Walk in the spring rain.  Day at the office.  Get the idea yet?  The Celtics simply overwhelmed the Portland Trail Blazers last night, giving them too much Larry Bird (28), too much M.L. Carr, too much Tiny Archibald and just too much team before walking off with a 106- 91 victory that ended their losing streak at its customary number – one.

Up to this point in the season, the Celtics had only lost two games in a row once (October 20 against Indiana and October 23 in San Antonio).  The Blazers were in a much different situation.  After capturing the NBA championship in 1977 over Julius Erving’s Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise dealt with the loss of Bill Walton (through injuries and then his departure to the Clippers) before reverting back to a mediocre team.  The Celtics dealt Portland its fourth straight loss, and the previous defeat was suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Portland remain competitive during the 1980s, but would finally break out again as a true championship contender in the spring of 1990.  With a dynamic rookie in place, the Celtics would not have to wait anywhere near as long to return to championship form.

For Bird, Ryan wrote, it was another virtuoso display in which he did everything but clean the men’s room.  The Celtics led at the period (22-20), half (51-40), three- quarter mark (78-68) and by as many as 21 (96-75) in this generally uninspired contest before the usual capacity gathering of 12,666 at the Memorial Coliseum.  They had whatever it took to win, and in this case it meant another nice performance by Eric Fernsten, who relieved Rick Robey and who picked up eight valuable points, six on the offensive boards.

In addition to a solid outing from Fernsten, Pete Maravich also contributed six points and two assists in the victory.  With Dave Cowens still out with an injury, the Celtics were not yet forced to make a decision on cutting down the roster.

In other Celtics news, Will McDonough published a report in the Valentine’s Day edition of the Globe that the Celts may be moving away from the Boston Garden:

Former Red Sox general manager Dick O’Connell may be getting back into the local sports scene.  O’Connell met recently with Celtic owner Harry Mangurian to discuss the possibility of becoming Mangurian’s liaison in the effort to build a new multisport arena in East Boston.

“We met, but everything is still vague at the moment,” said O’Connell, who has kept a low profile since being fired by the Red Sox following the team’s sale after the 1977 season.

O’Connell, generally credited with transforming the Sox from cellar- dwellers to contenders, is a close friend of Celtic president Red Auerbach, who recommended him to Mangurian when the Celtic owner was looking for a man to try to pull the arena deal together.

“I don’t want to take anyone away from the Celtic organization to try to work in a role such as this,” says Mangurian. “The people we have now all have jobs to do, and the way things are going, I don’t want to do anything to disrupt the organization.”

The Celtics continued their road trip in Seattle on Sunday.

 

 

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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.