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NBA ROUNDUP : Bird Leads Celtics Past Knicks

A Larry Bird in the best of health can cure a number of woes for the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics have had two or more of their top six players missing because of injury since the start of the season, and Bird, who turns 35 today, is supposed to be slowing down.

Instead, the 6-foot-9 forward, coming off foot surgery, is playing brilliantly and is the Celtics’ spark.

Bird scored 12 of his 31 points in a 35-point fourth quarter that carried the Celtics to a 103-92 victory over the New York Knicks Friday night at Boston.

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The battle for first place in the Atlantic Division was tied, 80-80, when Bird and Robert Parish scored six points apiece in a 13-4 run that broke it open.

The Knicks, who had won six in a row, went into the game with the best defensive record in the NBA. But the 35-point blowout handed them their 21st consecutive regular-season loss at Boston Garden.

The victory broke the virtual tie for first place. The Celtics, despite a patched-up lineup, are 12-6.

Brian Shaw has played only a few minutes in the last two games, and Dee Brown has not played at all. Veteran forward Kevin McHale has missed the last eight games because of an ankle injury.

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But Bird has the Celtics playing well. He was only eight for 20 in this one but made all 14 free throws and had 12 rebounds and seven assists.

The Celtics impressed Patrick Ewing, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds.

“They play outstanding defense,” said Ewing, who had only eight points in the second half. “Our shots stopped falling and they were making theirs. Defense has been winning games for us.”

Ed Pinckney, the replacement for McHale, played well as a reserve. In 27 minutes, he contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds.

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Philadelphia 105, Portland 102--The 76ers had lost seven in a row and their best player, Charles Barkley, was injured.

Despite a brilliant performance by Portland’s Clyde Drexler, the 76ers beat the Trail Blazers on a three-point shot by Johnny Dawkins at the overtime buzzer.

Only five seconds earlier, Drexler sank a three-pointer to finish with 38 points. Drexler also sent the game into overtime with a driving layup before the end of regulation.

Utah 93, San Antonio 92--Blue Edwards made a 15-foot bank shot with 4.7 seconds left at San Antonio to give the Jazz the victory.

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David Robinson had 31 points and 17 rebounds. Karl Malone of the Jazz had his knee drained of fluid Thursday and came back to score 31 points.

Despite the problem, Malone played 39 minutes, was 12 for 22 from the field and had 12 rebounds and five assists.

Edwards missed his other five shots.

The Spurs, without injured forwards Terry Cummings and Antoine Carr, lost after winning eight home games in a row.

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Detroit 105, Washington 94--Joe Dumars had 32 points and Dennis Rodman had 21 rebounds at Landover, Md., and the Pistons handed the Bullets their fourth loss in a row.

Michael Adams rejoined the injury-riddled Bullets but missed 13 of 18 shots.

Indiana 126, Milwaukee 106--The Pacers outscored the Bucks, 30-17, in the second quarter at Indianapolis and the Bucks lost their second in a row under Coach Frank Hamblen.

Phoenix 122, Orlando 105--Jeff Hornacek had 33 points and Andrew Lang had 17 points and 19 rebounds at Orlando to lead the Suns to their sixth victory in a row.

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Chicago 114, Charlotte 96--The Bulls’ 14th consecutive game was in doubt for only a few minutes at Chicago. The Bulls jumped ahead, 20-8, in seven minutes and romped.

Michael Jordan had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the Hornets’ 11th road loss without a victory.

Jordan played 34 minutes and got his 22nd triple-double.

Seattle 96, Minnesota 94--The Timberwolves, who have won only three of 15 games, had a 10-point lead with eight minutes left at Seattle. But Ricky Pierce sparked a rally that led the SuperSonics to victory.

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