NBA Roundup : Unlikely Hero, Win for Celtics
When all the injured Boston Celtics are ready to play, Fred Roberts will probably return to his accustomed spot at the end of the bench. For the moment, at least, the 6-10 journeyman from BYU is the reason the Celtics’ amazing home-court winning streak is still intact.
Although the Celtics had jumped off to an early lead against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, their chances of winning for the 44th consecutive game at home didn’t look good.
The game was barely nine minutes old and Larry Bird was on his way to the showers. He picked up two technical fouls and was finished for the night.
Along came Roberts, a fourth-year pro with a lifetime average of 6.4 points per game.
Roberts, picked up as a free agent before the season started, broke a close game open in the third quarter. Roberts scored 12 of his 23 points and grabbed 9 of his 12 rebounds in 12 minutes to enable the Celtics to stretch a seven-point lead to an insurmountable 26-point advantage en route to a 124-116 win.
Kevin McHale also had 13 in the period to make a fourth-quarter surge by the Bucks meaningless.
It was an amazing performance by the Celtics, who, in addition to losing Bird, the best player in the game, were still missing injured veterans Bill Walton, Danny Ainge and Scott Wedman.
Both teams were without their coaches, too. Don Nelson of the Bucks was in the hospital with a back problem, while K.C. Jones has missed two games because of a sore throat.
However, the Bucks had all their players, although two stalwarts, Jack Sikma (1 for 10) and Terry Cummings (7 for 18) had trouble locating the basket.
Bird, who sparked the early Boston rush that produced a run of 11 consecutive points, had his altercation with 2:52 left in the first period with Boston ahead, 24-17. Referee Bill Oakes called a foul on Dennis Johnson. Bird threw the ball high in the air to draw the first technical. He tossed the ball in the air again, but it was not until he started arguing with Oakes that No. 2 was called and Bird was gone.
Bird had been averaging 30 points a game. In his 9 minutes he was 1 for 3 for 2 points and had 1 rebound and 3 assists.
Roberts, getting considerable playing time anyhow because Wedman and Walton are out, played 34 minutes, scoring 23 points, just two below his career high. He was 8 for 11 and had 12 rebounds.
“Roberts played real strong,” said assistant Coach Jim Rodgers. “He was our defensive stopper and also did all the other things.”
Washington 101, Chicago 99--Just about the time the Bulls were convinced that Michael Jordan could perform a miracle any time they needed one, the star guard turned out to be human, after all.
The Bullets, who jumped off to a 26-13 lead at Landover, Md., appeared to be the latest victim of Jordan’s late heroics. Early in the last period Jordan scored seven points in a row and the Bulls trailed only, 87-85.
Instead of taking over, Jordan, who has been playing about 41 minutes per game, suddenly ran out of miracles. He missed 6 of his last 7 shots and the Bulls fell short.
Jordan finished with 28 points, his lowest output in seven games. He was only 9 for 25 from the field.
The Malones pulled out the second victory in seven games for the Bullets. Moses had 33 points and 13 rebounds, while Jeff had 30 points.
Dallas 114, Houston 85--Rolando Blackman scored 12 points in a 17-0 second quarter burst at Dallas that brought the Mavericks from behind and started them on their way to an easy victory.
The rally began with Houston leading, 40-30. By the end of the third quarter the Rockets trailed, 84-68.
Blackman had 31 points and Akeem Olajuwon led all scorers with 32.
The Rockets are still without the other tower, Ralph Sampson. They are 4-2 without him.
Detroit 108, Phoenix 100--Isiah Thomas, thrown out in the third quarter of his previous game for throwing a punch, came out firing basketballs at Pontiac, Mich.
Thomas scored 18 of his 31 points in the first quarter to give the Pistons the lead and they handed the Suns their fifth loss in a row on the road.
Sacramento 110, Denver 108--Terry Tyler, sinking nine of his 13 shots from the field, led the Kings to their first road victory.
The Nuggets, who lost a tough game to the Clippers Tuesday night, lost their first home game.