Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 63 vs. the Spurs

Celtics (47-15) vs. San Antonio (33-31)
February 27, 1980
Boston Garden

The Celtics increased their winning streak to four in a row after out-running the San Antonio at the Garden, 130-125.

The game, far removed from today’s NBA, entertained a building sellout to a38-38 first quarter.  George Gervin looked to be on pace for a record-setting night after 21 points in the first quarter alone, but the Celtics’ defense “limited” the Ice Man to only 35 points for the evening.

Gerald Henderson

Along with eight rebounds, Larry Bird (13-20 from the field) continued his sublime rookie season by delivering 30 points.  Cedric Maxwell gave the Spurs fits all night, as well, with 22 points and remained accurate, shooting 8-11.  Outside of those two stalwarts of the Celtics’ offensive production, the rest of the team was still taking turns having a break-out performance.  This night’s game-changer, Gerald Henderson, was originally drafted by the Spurs.  San Antonio cut him nearly immediately, and instantly regretted that as he produced 9 points in the fourth quarter.  Henderson and Pete Maravich, who put in 6 points in the fourth, along with Bird, Rick Robey, and M.L. Carr, helped the Celtics break open a tense 116-111 lead and went on a run to effectively put the game on ice at 128-113 with just under two minutes remaining.

 

Chris Ford

Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe detailed the win:

The Spurs got to play their game, which consists of putting it up and pushing it up, and they played it well enough to take a 65-61 halftime lead.

There were moments of total insanity in this game, with sloppy passes being matched by the opposition, especially in the final six minutes of the second period, when the teams combined for 15 turnovers.  Both teams like to push the ball up the floor, and the defense consisted mainly of saying, “So Long, Baby!” as an offensive player roared en route to the hoop.

M.L. Carr’s defense did a great job to corral Gervin in the second half, reported Walter Haynes from the Globe.

Carr (13 points, 8 rebounds) who, along with Gerald Henderson (12 points, 6 assists) had strong performances off the bench, said: “George is going to get his points. I just told him I was going to eat ‘em up on defense to put something on his mind. But we can let a Gervin and a Lloyd Free get their points and still beat them.

“It’s more important for us now to concentrate on not making mistakes and letting games get away from us that we are supposed to win.”

The Celtics’ homestand continued with a date with Jo Jo White, Robert Parish, and the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

 

2_27_80

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.