Skip to content
Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1984 NBA Season – Magic vs Bird Part 1

November 22, 2013

Bird_vs_Magic_1984_NBA_Finals

Magic and Bird finally squared off in the Finals in 1984 *photo courtesy of Pro Sports Extra

In 1984, the NBA was in for some changes.  First, Commissioner Larry O’Brien was succeeded by David Stern on February 1.  There was now an All-Star Weekend with a Saturday night of a Legends Game and Slam-Dunk Contest (as well as the All-Star Game on Sunday).  There were also now 8 teams from each conference that would be allowed into the playoffs (for better or worse) and the first round would become a best-of-5 series instead of best-of-3.

There were some young teams emerging with some high-powered offense.  This combination produced the highest scoring game in NBA History.  On March 6, 1982, the San Antonio Spurs beat the Milwaukee Bucks 171-166 in triple overtime.  That score was about to be eclipsed in the Mile High City.

December 13, 1983 – Detroit Pistons 186 @Denver Nuggets 184 (3OT)

The Detroit Pistons weren’t quite the bad boys yet.  Before they became the bad boys they were another high-powered offensive team that didn’t play much defense.  Pieces of the bad boys were in place.  Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson were there and Chuck Daly was in his first season as coach.  But the rest of the team was compiled of shooters John Long and Kelly Tripucka, talented forward Terry Tyler, and bangers Cliff Levingston, Kent Benson and Earl Curetan.

Denver was still kind of an ABA product of run-and-gun, and boy did they ever.  All-Star forwards Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe teamed with veteran center Dan Issel for a lethal frontcourt.  The rest of the team wasn’t as talented although some pieces eventually fit.  T.R. Dunn was the only defensive player on the team.  Point guard Rob Williams would be out of the league after 1984.  Off the bench, Mike Evans was a sharpshooter, Danny Schayes was a talented up-and-coming inside player, Richard Anderson was a banger and surprisingly good shooter for a big man, and Bill Hanzlik ended up being a steadying influence.

Detroit and Denver came into the game with pedestrian records.  The Pistons were 10-12 and Denver was 11-11.  But the fireworks started immediately as off the tip, Dunn got it to Issel at the wing for a pull-up jumper.  Isiah found Long for an elbow jumper.  Issel hit a driving layup after up-faking Laimbeer.  But Bill came back with a turnaround in the post.  After Rob Williams’ two free throws, Laimbeer hit another jumper in the post.  Issel came back with a jumper from the wing and just over 1:00 into the game, nobody had missed.  Laimbeer finally broke that string but the offense continued as Detroit led 38-34 after the first and 49-46 when my version of the game resumed.

Issel made his 8th field goal in 8 attempts from the top of the key to cut it to one.  Then on the fast break, Vandeweghe found Anderson for a three-point play.  The Pistons stayed alive from the hot hand of John Long, who only missed one shot in his first 13 attempts.  His steal and layup gave Detroit a 61-59 lead and gave him 17 points.  But the half wasn’t near over.  Anderson rebounded his own missed free throw and hit a jumper from the top and then an Issel wing jumper tied the game at 66.  Evans then gave the Nuggets a lead with two wing jumpers but the Pistons came back when Isiah found Curetan for a slam and then Curetan tipped in a Thomas miss.  Detroit tied the game at 74 at the halftime buzzer on Long’s turnaround from the post.

The teams kept going back and forth in the 3rd.  Long continued to fire it up with English and Vandeweghe matching him.  In fact, Vandeweghe ended the third quarter with 38 points as Denver took a 113-108 lead heading into the 4th.  Alex English hit two quick field goals to start the period but three-point plays by Vinnie and Curetan got Detroit back.  Then Isiah took over.  He hit a double-pump banker in the lane, a pull-up in the lane, another banker in the paint and then a three-point play on a banker from just left of the lane.  This barrage tied the game at 124.  English and Kiki once again gave Denver a 138-132 lead but then Tripucka hit two jumpers off great Detroit ball movement, and then Long tied it with a wing jumper off a screen.  English then gave Denver an advantage but two Isiah field goals kept Detroit within 145-143 but Denver had the ball.  However, Vandeweghe missed a turn-around and Detroit got the rebound and a timeout with 20 seconds left.

Isiah pulled up at the baseline and airballed a shot.  Laimbeer got the rebound and was fouled.  With 6 seconds left, Bill almost airballed the first free throw.  Detroit called a timeout.  The strategy turned out to be Laimbeer miss the second free throw on purpose and Isiah get the rebound and put it back in.  At least that’s how Chuck Daly will say he drew it up because that’s what happened to tie the game at 145.  Issel missed from the top of the key at the buzzer and we were headed to overtime.

Early, it was Terry Tyler that matched four Denver points with two field goals.  An English leaner put the Nuggets up 151-149 but Isiah went coast-to-coast (with a behind-the-back dribble involved) to answer.  But an English runner, a Vandeweghe banker on the drive and an Evans wing jumper put Denver up 157-152 with 1:24 left.  Ray Tolbert missed two free throws for the Pistons (free throw shooting was the bugaboo for Detroit) but Laimbeer stole the rebound and Tolbert got a layup.  Isiah then got his 5th foul away from the ball and English hit a free throw.  With 45 seconds left, Isiah hit a three from the top of the key to cut the Nuggets lead to 158-157.  English then split a pair of free throws and Tripucka’s banker from left of the lane tied it up with 31 seconds left.

After a Denver timeout, Issel missed a winner again with 8 seconds left.  Isiah got the rebound and tried to go coast-to-coast but time ran out on him before he could make the shot.  In the 2nd overtime, every Denver basket was answered by Tripucka.  Kelly in fact scored all of the Piston points in the 2nd overtime.  Two Tripucka free throws tied the game at 169 and officially made this the highest scoring game in NBA history.  Long penetrated and found Kelly for a jumper with 41 seconds left.  This gave Detroit a 171-169 lead.  Nobody had more than a two-point lead in the 2nd overtime and everyone was exhausted.  Hanzlik tied it with two free throws with 17 seconds left and then Isiah missed at the buzzer to keep the game going.

Terry Tyler once again scored the Pistons first two field goals in the overtime.  The 2nd one tied the game at 175.  English then scored on a jumper for his 47th point and Denver eventually took a 179-177 lead before Laimbeer tied it with two free throws.  Then Laimbeer rebounded an English miss and outletted to Long for a breakaway for his 41st point.  Then with under a minute left, Isiah stole the ball from Hanzlik and went coast-to-coast.  Laimbeer than blocked an English layup and Isiah hit two free throws with 30 seconds left for a 185-179 lead.  Vandeweghe got a layup for his 51st point but Isiah sealed it with a free throw and his 47th point.  Richard Anderson hit a three at the buzzer to cut the losing margin to two for Denver.  Of the 142 combined field goal makes in this game, that was only the second three.

Both teams had a few days off after this game but lost their next games.  Denver as it turned out went into a bigger tailspin, losing 6 of their next 7 to drop to 12-18.  They rebounded enough to finish with the 7th seed in the West at 38-44 but lost to Utah in the 1st round.  Detroit meanwhile was starting to put it together and had another test in New York two weeks later.

Detroit starters (points scored)

Kelly Tripucka (35) – Small Forward

Cliff Levingston (2) – Power Forward

Bill Laimbeer (17) – Center

Isiah Thomas (47) – Point Guard

John Long (41) – Shooting Guard

Detroit bench (points scored)

Vinnie Johnson (12)

Terry Tyler (18)

Kent Benson (0)

Ray Tolbert (3)

Earl Curetan (9)

Walker D. Russell (2)

David Thirdkill (0)

Detroit Coach: Chuck Daly

-

Denver starters (points scored)

Alex English (47) – Small Forward

Kiki Vandeweghe (51) – Power Forward

Dan Issel (28) – Center

Rob Williams (9) – Point Guard

T.R. Dunn (7) – Shooting Guard

Denver bench (points scored)

Richard Anderson (13)

Mike Evans (16)

Danny Schayes (11)

Howard Carter (0)

Bill Hanzlik (2)

Kenny Dennard (0)

Denver Coach: Doug Moe

boxscore_nuggets 12-13-83 boxscore_pistons 12-13-83

The boxscore of the Nuggets (top) and the Pistons from the highest scoring game in NBA history *photos courtesy of nba.com

December 25, 1983 – Los Angeles Lakers 121 @Portland Blazers 141

Quite possibly the biggest win for the Portland Trailblazers in 1980′s (hey, don’t rule it out).  Magic was out with a dislocated finger and Kurt Rambis was also out for L.A. (Magic missing was probably more of a factor).  The Blazers didn’t have any injuries but had weather issues as Calvin Natt didn’t show up until the 4th quarter because of the icy, windy conditions in Portland on Christmas.

The Blazers only change from 1983 was drafting Clyde Drexler.  Clyde struggled a bit in his rookie year but eventually found his niche.  The other Blazer key contributors were back – Natt, Jim Paxson, Mychal Thompson, Darnell Valentine, Kenny Carr, Wayne Cooper, Fat Lever.  Other than the injuries (which included having James Worthy back) the Lakers only major change was shipping Norm Nixon to the Clippers for Swen Nater and rookie Byron Scott.

This turned out to be a high scoring affair with 1st place in the Pacific Division on the line.  Valentine found Carr on the break for a slam to start the game.  Kareem came back with a left-handed sky-hook but Portland took an 8-4 lead when Valentine went coast-to-coast.  But L.A. tied it at 10 with a Kareem right-handed customary sky-hook from the baseline.  The Blazers built another small lead when Valentine penetrated and found Mychal Thompson for a three-point play.  Valentine then found Carr in transition for a 23-18 Blazer lead.

Scott and Worthy kept the Lakers within striking distance but a three-point play by Audie Norris against Kareem put Portland up 31-24.  The Lakers cut it back to three on a Jamaal Wilkes jumper but then Paxson hit a pull-up from the wing and Thompson got another three-point play after a Lever steal.  Portland led 42-34 going into the 2nd quarter.

The Lakers bench kept L.A. in it as Scott and Bob McAdoo hit some key jumpers.  Then Scott found Wilkes for two field goals and Portland’s lead was cut to 52-50.  But then Lever hit a layup after recovering a loose ball and then Valentine found Drexler with a lob.  Worthy eventually scored six points in a row to tie the game and then a left-handed driving slam by Worthy gave the Lakers a 64-62 lead.  But Portland went on a 6-0 run and led at the half 72-70.

Then with the game tied at 72 the sky started falling.  Paxson found Wayne Cooper fora jumper.  Kenny Carr hit two free throws and then Paxson alley-ooped to Thompson from half court.  Kareem answered with a sky hook but Paxson hit a three and Valentine two free throws for an 83-74 Portland lead.  Worthy came back with two field goals to give him 22 points but then Thompson found Paxson for a wing jumper.  Then Mychal and Valentine found Carr for layups on back-to-back possessions and a Cooper jumper gave Portland a 91-78 lead.  Later, Paxson found Norris for a double-pump layup and a 97-81 Blazer lead.  Thompson found Paxson with a whip pass for a reverse and then Lever finished out the quarter with a wing jumper and a driving layup.  Portland led 103-85 going into the 4th.

In the final quarter, the Lakers were more-or-less content to have players like Calvin Garrett and Larry Spriggs on the court.  Meanwhile, Portland seemed determined to run up the score.  A Lever wing jumper put the Blazers up 106-85.  Then Valentine got a breakaway three-point play and Lever got another three-point play after a steal from Michael Cooper.  If not for a great 4th quarter from Garrett and a few Laker mini-runs, Portland would have ran them out of the building, especially with Natt now playing and contributing 12 points in the quarter.

Portland led the Division after the game but eventually finished with 48 wins and behind the Lakers.  The Blazers lost to Phoenix in the first round and then not only drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan but made a trade in the off-season that may have set them back.  The Blazers sent Wayne Cooper, Calvin Natt, Fat Lever, a 1984 2nd round pick and a 1985 1st round pick to Denver for Kiki Vandeweghe and only Kiki Vandeweghe.  This trade ended up giving Denver two division titles and perhaps making them a championship contender.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (12) – Small Forward

James Worthy (30) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22) – Center

Michael Cooper (4) – Point Guard

Mike McGee (4) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Bob McAdoo (12)

Byron Scott (12)

Calvin Garrett (12)

Swen Nater (5)

Larry Spriggs (8)

Mitch Kupchak (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Portland starters (points scored)

Kenny Carr (24) – Small Forward

Mychal Thompson (18) – Power Forward

Wayne Cooper (12) – Center

Darnell Valentine (18) – Point Guard

Jim Paxson (27) – Shooting Guard

Portland bench (points scored)

Calvin Natt (12)

Fat Lever (17)

Clyde Drexler (8)

Jeff Lamp (0)

Audie Norris (5)

Pete Verhoeven (0)

Portland Coach: Jack Ramsay

December 28, 1983 – Detroit Pistons 111 @New York Knicks 108

Three days after Christmas, the Detroit Pistons went into Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks in what turned out to be a playoff preview.  New York had reacquired Ray Williams after losing him to free agency after the 1981 season.  He joined the starting lineup in Paul Westphal’s place at shooting guard.  New York featured superstar Bernard King, veteran Truck Robinson, consistent big man Bill Cartwright and young Rory Sparrow.  The likes of Louis Orr, Trent Tucker, Ernie Grunfeld, Marvin Webster and rookie Darrell Walker came off the bench.

The game started nicely for Detroit.  Isiah hit Long at the wing for a jumper.  Then after Bernard King tied it, Isiah hit a pull-up at the elbow.  Then Tripucka, Benson and Long each hit jumpers at it was timeout New York with the Pistons up 10-2.  Long hit another wing jumper on a Thomas assist before New York finally got it going.  Williams hit a turn-around in the post and then Robinson a pull-up from the baseline.  Isiah’s two free throws put Detroit up 18-11 before Williams hit a left-handed driving layup.  Then King hit two free throws and Robinson kicked out to Sparrow at the top of the key for a jumper.  After Williams found Truck for a layup it was timeout Detroit as the Knicks took a 19-18 lead.  But after the timeout, Bernard King took it all the way to the basket from half court and finished plus the foul.

However, thereafter the Pistons went on an 8-0 run.  Vinnie Johnson found Long on the break for a reverse.  Then Vinnie hit a pull-up jumper and then Tripucka took it coast-to-coast past two guys for a layup.  Long finished the run with a breakaway.  The Pistons finished the quarter on a high note when Isiah found Cliff Levingston for a slam at the buzzer.  Detroit led 32-27.

The Knicks bench started the 2nd quarter well as New York went on an 10-2 run.  Grunfeld and Orr each got two field goals and Webster hit a turnaround in the post.  But then there was another Detroit 8-0 run as Isiah found Terry Tyler for two field goals and then scored himself on a driving layup down the middle.  Then the 6’1″ Isiah got a slam on the break after a Long feed.  Bernard King kept the Knicks in the game with six late points in the first half but Detroit kept its lead and an Isiah layup on an Earl Curetan touch-pass put Detroit up 55-48 at the half.

Let’s be frank, the 3rd quarter was ugly.  The Knicks did score 31 points but only 5 field goals.  There was a stretch where 14 consecutive points were scored by both teams combined at the line.  New York did run a mini-streak together when Webster tipped in a Darrell Walker miss and Grunfeld hit two jumpers.  Walker’s three free throws put the Knicks up 79-72 going into the 4th.

The final quarter started out with field goals from Levingston, Orr and Tripucka.  But the free throw game continued from there until a wing jumper from John Long tied the game at 84.  King responded with a turnaround in the post but Vinnie Johnson came back with a pull-up from the foul line.  Long and Cartwright exchanged field goals before Vinnie crossed over his man and hit a driving layup plus the foul.  King kicked out to Grunfeld for a corner jumper but then Levingston rebounded a Vinnie miss and put it back in plus the foul again.  Two King pull-up jumpers tied the game at 94.

It was then that Isiah saw his first action of the 4th quarter (about halfway through it).  Long scored six consecutive Piston points.  The last two was when Isiah found him for a corner jumper and a 100-97 Detroit lead.  The teams exchanged.  Sparrow hit a jumper.  Levingston hit two free throws.  King hit from the elbow.  Tripucka hit from the foul line after Isiah found him.  King kicked out to Sparrow at the top of the key for a jumper.  Tripucka hit a pull-up in the lane after coming off a screen with 1:14 left.  He was fouled on the play, missed the free throw but Detroit still led 106-103.

But the Knicks found King, who hit from the post and was fouled.  The free throw tied the game with just over 1:00 left.  The Pistons found Tripucka who hit a pull-up from the baseline while being knocked to the floor.  After Kelly was given a timeout to gather himself, he hit the free throw for a 109-106 Detroit lead.  King and Grunfeld missed shots and Laimbeer rebounded the second miss.  He outletted to Isiah who found Levingston for a slam over Sparrow and a 111-106 Detroit lead with 28 seconds left (seems unfair to call it posterizing when the 6’8″ Levingston slams over the 6’2″ Sparrow but it was a posterizing.. Isiah was even talking trash to Rory after the play).  Cartwright got a quick basket but Detroit was able to run out the clock and win.  The Knicks would see them again in the playoffs.

Detroit starters (points scored)

Kelly Tripucka (20) – Small Forward

Kent Benson (2) – Power Forward

Bill Laimbeer (8) – Center

Isiah Thomas (25) – Point Guard

John Long (22) – Shooting Guard

Detroit bench (points scored)

Vinnie Johnson (11)

Terry Tyler (4)

Cliff Levingston (19)

Earl Curetan (0)

David Thirdkill (0)

Detroit Coach: Chuck Daly

-

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (34) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (9) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (13) – Center

Rory Sparrow (14) – Point Guard

Ray Williams (10) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Louis Orr (8)

Darrell Walker (5)

Trent Tucker (0)

Ernie Grunfeld (11)

Marvin Webster (4)

Len Elmore (0)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

January 29, 1984 – NBA All-Star Game @ Denver: East 154, West 145 (OT)

For the All-Star Game in 1984, there were now events to go with the game itself.  For the first time, All-Star Saturday was featured with a slam-dunk contest and an old-timers game (or legends game, if you prefer).  Julius Erving, who had won the first slam-dunk contest in Denver in 1976, was back and being challenged by a young group.  Fate would have had Erving win again but the Doctor couldn’t overcome a missed dunk in the final round (and unlike today, dunkers don’t have 5409782972876098276859768970278760 chances to make-up for a missed dunk) and lost out to Larry Nance of the Phoenix Suns.  Dominique Wilkins finished third.

The Legends Game featured old timers ranging from 35-year-old Pete Maravich to 57-year-old Dick McGuire and had stars like Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Nate Thurmond, John Havlicek and Rick Barry.  The old-timers game was eventually replaced by the rookie game in 1994 because the legends kept getting hurt in the game.

Although both of these events were entertaining, for at least this weekend the game was the best.  Erving got the East off to a good start as he got his first points on a slam off a Sidney Moncrief steal to put the East up 4-2.  Then Moncrief stole the ball from Kareem after the big guy got a defensive rebound and scored.  Later, Larry Bird got a steal and Isiah Thomas lobbed one to the Doctor to put the East up 8-4.  Then Erving went coast-to-coast on a Robert Parish outlet and after an Isiah steal, Julius finished with a layup.  The East was up 12-4.

But it was Alex English of the host Nuggets and George Gervin who led the West to a 40-32 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Then in the 2nd, the benches became a factor.  For the East, Bernard King and Kevin McHale were sparks but Mark Aguirre, Jim Paxson and Rickey Green kept the West ahead.  After Aguirre scored 8 points to give the West a 50-43 lead, Green found Paxson for a cutting layup and then Green got a breakaway after a Paxson steal.  The West kept that double-digit lead for the rest of the half and took their biggest lead at 70-52.  It was 76-62 at the half.

The East cut into the lead a bit but it was still 88-79 halfway through.  Green, Jack Sikma and Aguirre kept the West’s lead at that margin until they led 95-84.  Then McHale hit two free throws and King hit a pull-up from the elbow.  Then Bernard tipped in an Otis Birdsong miss and McHale got a slam after King saved the ball from going out of bounds.  The lead was down to 95-92.  After a Green wing jumper, King had a strong finish versus rookie Ralph Sampson.  But later Sikma scored on a third shot and then Jack got a steal and Green found Paxson for a layup and a 103-95 West lead.  The West had a 107-99 advantage going into the fourth.

Sikma hit a pull-up from the wing to give the West another 10 point lead.  But then Isiah found King for a slam on a 4-on-1.  Then Thomas hit from the top of the key and King found Bill Laimbeer for a layup in transition.  Magic found Sampson in transition for a slam and a 113-107 West lead.  But then Isiah hit from the wing, Jeff Ruland got a reverse layup on an Isiah assist, Thomas found Laimbeer with a blind pass for a layup and then Erving scored on a breakaway after taking the ball behind his back.  The East now led 115-113.

Walter Davis hit a jumper from the top of the key to tie it but then Isiah pushed the ball right back and went coast-to-coast.  Kiki Vandeweghe tied it again with a drive from the left side.  But then Isiah penetrated and kicked out to his Detroit teammate, Laimbeer, for a jumper from the elbow.  Then Laimbeer got a three-point play on a putback and Bird found him for another layup on an inbounds pass.  Laimbeer had 13 points in the 4th quarter.  After an Erving fallaway from the baseline, the East led 128-119.  They led 130-121 after Isiah found Bird for a wing jumper.

But with only a few minutes left, the West took advantage of all its chances.  Kiki hit a baseline jumper then Magic found him for another.  After a Kareem free throw, the lead was down to 130-126.  Erving hit two free throws for his 28th point.  But then Magic found Sikma for a layup.  Then Sikma tipped in a Kareem miss with 50 seconds left and the lead was down to 132-130.  After an East miss, Magic took the ball himself into the lane and banked one in to tie it with 28 seconds left.  The East worked the ball but Bird missed a wing jumper.  Magic again took it himself but missed a running three at the buzzer.  The game was headed into overtime.

The East started fast just like at the start of the game.  Isiah hit a driving banker in the lane while he was fouled.  After Kareem tipped in a Sikma miss, Erving hit a pull-up from the wing and then a banker after recovering the ball when Magic blocked a Bird shot.  Then after Magic found Gervin for a layup with his 20th assist, Andrew Toney hit a wing jumper and then got a fast break three-point play on an Isiah assist.  Then Parish outletted to Toney for another breakaway and the East led 146-136.

The West’s last charge came when Magic tipped in a Vandeweghe miss with 58 seconds left to cut the lead to 148-142.  But then Parish found Isiah for a cutting layup.  Isiah had 21 second half points and would earn the MVP with that.  Magic hit a three but Parish got a breakaway off that make.  Toney got another breakaway for the final margin.

East starters (teams) and point totals

Larry Bird (Boston Celtics) 16 – Small Forward

Julius Erving (Philadelphia 76ers) 34 – Power Forward

Robert Parish (Boston Celtics) 12 – Center

Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons) 21 – Point Guard

Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks) 8 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals

Andrew Toney (Philadelphia 76ers) 13

Jeff Ruland (Washington Bullets) 6

Bernard King (New York Knicks) 18

Otis Birdsong (New Jersey Nets) 2

Kevin McHale (Boston Celtics) 10

Bill Laimbeer (Detroit Pistons) 13

Kelly Tripucka (Detroit Pistons) 1

East Coach: K.C. Jones (Boston Celtics)

-

West starters (teams) and point totals

Alex English (Denver Nuggets) 13 – Small Forward

Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz) 2 – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers) 25 – Center

Magic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) 15 – Point Guard

George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) 13 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

Kiki Vandeweghe (Denver Nuggets) 14

Jack Sikma (Seattle Sonics) 15

Ralph Sampson (Houston Rockets) 9

Walter Davis (Phoenix Suns) 10

Rickey Green (Utah Jazz) 6

Mark Aguirre (Dallas Mavericks) 13

Jim Paxson (Portland Blazers) 10

West Coach: Frank Layden (Utah Jazz)

1984-all-star-mvp Julius-Erving-1984-NBA-Dunk-Contest_m

At top, 1984 All-Star Game MVP Isiah Thomas is looking inside while at bottom, Julius Erving finishes one of his slams in the 1984 Slam-Dunk Contest *photos courtesy of nba.com and dunk contest

January 31, 1984 – New York Knicks 117 @San Antonio Spurs 113

On the first road trip after the All-Star break, the Knicks went on the Texas-roadtrip that most teams go on.  Play in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston all within about a week.  New York’s first stop was in San Antonio.  The Spurs came into the game at 20-24, which was good enough for 6th in the West at that point.

San Antonio had the same roster as 1983 with George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Mike Mitchell, Gene Banks. and Johnny Moore.  Moore was out for this game with a dislocated finger and replaced by John Lucas, who was trying to come back from drug strike number 1.  San Antonio’s defense wasn’t quite as good as 1983 (it wasn’t terribly good in 1983) and along with that Gilmore had the lowest average of his 13-year career and Moore’s average was down from 1983.

But Gervin was having another fine season and he started this game well.  In fact, the first quarter (like most of the game) was a duel between Iceman and Bernard King.  Gervin hit a turnaround in the post and King answered with two free throws.  Banks then found Gervin for a layup and King responded with a tip-slam.  Lucas then pushed the ball right back down and found Gervin for a layup and a foul.  The Spurs took an early five-point lead before New York took their first lead at 12-11 after a Cartwright block started a Darrell Walker coast-to-coast layup.

The lead switched hands for the next few minutes with Gervin and King leading the way.  Each finished with 16 points at the end of the quarter.  Field goals by Marvin Webster and Truck Robinson finally put New York up 37-33 going into the 2nd quarter.

King started the period with a turnaround in the post and a pull-up jumper from the post area.  The Knicks took a 44-35 lead when King found Len Elmore for a layup on the break.  The Knicks kept at that margin with King continuing to put points on the board.  A Cartwright three-point play put New York up 55-47.  A Banks jumper and driving slam from right of the lane cut into the lead but Bernard hit another turnaround in the post and then Walker found him for a slam.  King finished the first half with 31 points.  Gervin came on late in the quarter to conclude with 25 and the Spurs cut the lead to 67-63 at the half.

The duel continued in the third as each scored two quick field goals and New York kept its lead.  Although that lead got down to 84-83 before a King put back gave him 42 points.  Gervin the scored his 37th point on a finger roll on the break.  But then Walker fed Trent Tucker at the top of the key for a jumper.  Then a Cartwright block set up a break as Walker found Tucker again for a layup.  The Knicks had a 97-91 lead going into the fourth.

At the start of the 4th, Ron Brewer found Gervin at the top of the key for a jumper.  It was Iceman’s 41st and last point of this game.  But the Spurs got a spark off the bench from journeyman forward Edgar Jones, and in the fourth quarter they got a lift from rookie Fred Roberts at both ends of the court.  Against most odds, Roberts held down King at one end.  New York kept its advantage briefly and Ernie Grunfeld’s jumper put them up 101-97.  But then Jones got an offensive rebound and a slam, and a foul.  That three-point play was followed by another.  Jones hit a driving layup across the lane while he was fouled.  The Spurs had a 103-101 lead.

Gervin committed his 4th foul on an offensive foul and there was a rare dry spell that followed as each team couldn’t put it in the hoop for the next few minutes.  Finally, Lucas found Jones for a jumper at the top of the key.  After Rory Sparrow hit a pull-up from the wing for New York to cut the lead to two, Gilmore got a three-point play on a step-through layup versus Cartwright.  It was Cartwright’s 5th foul.  Sparrow responded with another jumper before Lucas found Roberts in the corner for a jumper and a 110-105 lead.

After a New York timeout with 4:26 left, King finally busted free.  He put back a Sparrow miss and then hit a turnaround in the post.  Bernard followed with another turnaround from the post on a Sparrow entry.  New York now had the lead at 111-110.  After a Gervin miss, King committed his 5th foul on an offensive foul.  Banks recompensated with an offensive foul for his 5th.  Then with 1:18 left, Cartwright hit a turnaround in the lane.  Gervin missed in the lane but New York committed a 24-second violation.

Mitchell however missed a jumper and Cartwright hit two free throws with 13 seconds to put New York up 115-110.  King got a breakaway slam for his 50th point.  He wasn’t done.

San Antonio finished at 37-45, which was one game out of the playoffs.

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (50) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (8) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (21) – Center

Rory Sparrow (6) – Point Guard

Trent Tucker (11) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Darrell Walker (9)

Ernie Grunfeld (2)

Marvin Webster (6)

Eric Fernsten (0)

Len Elmore (4)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

-

San Antonio starters (points scored)

Gene Banks (12) – Small Forward

Mike Mitchell (11) – Power Forward

Artis Gilmore (12) – Center

John Lucas (7) – Point Guard

George Gervin (41) – Shooting Guard

San Antonio bench (points scored)

Edgar Jones (18)

Ron Brewer (4)

Fred Roberts (4)

Mark McNamara (4)

John Paxson (0)

San Antonio Coach: Bob Bass

Bernard-King-Elected-Into-Hall-Of-Fame

Bernard King scored 50 points vs. San Antonio, but he wasn’t done… *photo courtesy of 4umf

February 1, 1984 – New York Knicks 105 @Dallas Mavericks 98

The next night, New York was in Dallas on their 2nd of three stops in Texas.  The Mavericks for the first time in their 4 year history was on track for the playoffs.  They had a nice young roster with forwards Mark Aguirre and Jay Vincent and guards Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman.  They also had rookies Dale Ellis and Derek Harper who weren’t factors in this game but would become such.  Veteran coach Dick Motta guided this bunch.

King started the game with a jumper from the post on a second shot.  But Aguirre and Blackman got quick field goals to give Dallas a lead.  But New York regained it at 9-8 when King hit a pull-up after a behind-the-back dribble and was fouled.  Sparrow then found King for a slam after Dallas center Pat Cummings (a short center at 6’9″, he would sign with the Knicks in the off-season) hit a jumper.

The lead went back and forth as Aguirre’s step-through layup on the break gave the Mavs a 15-14 lead.  Tucker then hit a three-point play on a driving layup for the Knicks.  But Cummings found Aguirre for another driving layup.  Another Aguirre field goal gave Dallas a 22-18 lead and gave him 13 points.  A King pull-up for his 10th point and two Truck Robinson free throws tied the game before Aguirre hit a pull-up from the elbow at the end of the shot clock.  A Blackman jumper gave Dallas a 29-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Jay Vincent didn’t start in this game because he was said to be in Motta’s doghouse.  But he became a big factor in the 2nd quarter.  His turnaround in the post plus a foul gave Dallas a 34-27 lead.  Then he and King matched free throws and field goals as Aguirre committed his 3rd foul.  Bernard’s fadeaway from the baseline cut the lead to 36-35 and gave King 17 points.  Vincent responded with an up-and-under layup.  King eventually gave the Knicks the lead with a turnaround in the post but Blackman hit a three-point play with a jumper in the lane and Vincent hit a turnaround from the post.  It was 45-41 Dallas.

Vincent’s runner in the lane gave Dallas a 49-45 lead and gave him 11 points in the quarter and game.  Then Cummings hit two free throws.  Then he got a steal and delivered a perfect behind-the-back pass to Davis, who gave it back to Pat for a slam.  Dallas kept that eight-point lead when Davis hit a driving reverse layup down the lane at the buzzer.  The Mavericks led 58-50.

It wasn’t a minute into the 2nd half when Aguirre committed his 4th foul, but he stayed in the game.  He and King matched baskets before Cartwright hit a turnaround in the post and then a free throw.  Then King hit a runner on the baseline and then a pull-up on the break.  The lead was down to 60-59.  Back-to-back field goals by Aguirre gave Dallas a five-point lead but New York took a 69-68 lead on a Cartwright jumper from the post.  Cummings and Robinson matched field goals before King got his 34th point on a breakaway slam off a Cartwright steal.  Then a Grunfeld banker put New York up 75-70 but a Vincent hook shot eventually tied the game at 77.  King’s elbow jumper with 2 seconds left put New York up 79-77 going into the 4th.

The Knicks bench of Marvin Webster and Darrell Walker kept New York ahead before an Aguirre steal and a behind-the-back dribble at half court to get past Walker led to a breakaway that tied the game at 87.  Aguirre then committed his 5th foul and King hit a pull-up from the baseline.  Aguirre hit a layup on a Harper assist but then fouled out with 6:58 left on a call that he did not like.  King’s turnaround from the post put New York up 91-89.  Blackman answered with two free throws.

King hit another pull-up from the baseline and Blackman responded with a driving layup down the lane.  Robinson then tipped in a King miss but Davis hit a jumper from the top and was fouled.  His free throw put Dallas up 96-95.  Vincent then committed his 5th foul and King hit two free throws for 46 points.  Sparrow then got a score on a third shot.  Kurt Nimphius, who was starting while Vincent was in the doghouse for Dallas, missed two free throws and King hit a fallaway after a crossover to give New York a 101-96 lead.

Dallas couldn’t score as Blackman missed a shot, Vincent had a shot blocked by Cartwright and Davis committed a travel.  New York finally took a 103-96 lead with 48 seconds left on a Sparrow driving layup down the baseline.  After Davis airballed a three, the Knicks had the ball back.  They were running out the clock when the Knicks bench screamed at Sparrow to get the ball to King, who was going for back-to-back 50 point games for the first time since Rick Barry did it in 1967.  Rory finally got him the ball and Bernard drove, spun and hit a pull-up from the lane area as the Knicks bench celebrated.

For the record, King only scored 25 points in a Knicks 103-95 over Houston three days later.

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (50) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (14) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (9) – Center

Rory Sparrow (15) – Point Guard

Trent Tucker (7) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Darrell Walker (2)

Ernie Grunfeld (2)

Marvin Webster (4)

Len Elmore (2)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

-

Dallas starters (points scored)

Mark Aguirre (27) – Small Forward

Kurt Nimphius (4) – Power Forward

Pat Cummings (15) – Center

Brad Davis (8) – Point Guard

Rolando Blackman (24) – Shooting Guard

Dallas bench (points scored)

Jay Vincent (19)

Dale Ellis (0)

Derek Harper (0)

Bill Garnett (1)

Dallas Coach: Dick Motta

March 25, 1984 – Boston Celtics 114 @Philadelphia 76ers 119 (2OT)

It was a classic late regular season matchup between two rivals.  Boston had a 52-18 record coming into this game and were running away with the best record in the league.  But even though Philadelphia was 44-25 coming in, they had beaten Boston in 3 of the 5 matchups so far that season and were the world champions.

The only major change for either team from the 1983 season was Boston acquiring Dennis Johnson from Phoenix for Rick Robey (a lob-sided trade in retrospect but D.J. had worn out his welcome in Phoenix).  Also, Tiny Archibald wasn’t with Boston anymore.  He had been waived in the summer of ’83 and signed with Milwaukee.  He was the Bucks point guard answer for 46 games but didn’t play in the playoffs and retired after the season.

Injuries were a big factor in this game too.  Most notably, Robert Parish and Danny Ainge were out for Boston.  Philadelphia reserve guards Clint Richardson and Franklin Edwards were out as well (Edwards was out for the season with a broken forearm).  Even with that though, the rivalry was on and each team’s intensity showed.  It was over 2:00 into the game before the first point was put on the board.

Larry Bird and Julius Erving (who would get into a well-publicized fight in next year’s pre-season) got off to good starts.  Bird found D.J. for a layup and then followed up a Gerald Henderson miss.  Dr. J got a slam and a finger roll.  Erving then got a fast-break layup when Maurice Cheeks found him on a 3-on-1 to give Philly a 12-10 lead.  Moses Malone also got going with 9 first quarter points while Cedric Maxwell added 6.  Boston led 22-21 after one quarter when D.J. found Kevin McHale for a jumper.

For the 2nd quarter, Andrew Toney got going with a pull-up on a 3-on-1 break and then a breakaway.  Then rookie guard Sedale Threatt (getting more playing time with Richardson and Edwards out) scored on a drive and then found Erving on a 3-on-1 break for a slam.  Philly led 29-22 and Boston called timeout.  Philly took an eight-point lead twice but Boston’s bench helped them stay in it as Quinn Buckner and Scott Wedman hit key jumpers.  Boston cut it to 44-41 late in the half after a Bird three-point play.  But then Erving followed up a Toney miss at the buzzer and the 76ers led 46-41 at the half.

Philadelphia maintained a 52-47 lead early in the third but Larry Bird was starting to come on.  His putback cut it to three and then D.J. found him for a layup.  Boston took a 53-52 lead when Bird came off a screen and hit a wing jumper.  Then Maxwell hit a pull-up on the break and Bird hit a runner on the baseline.  The Celtics led 57-52 and Larry was 5-for-5 in the 2nd half.  Boston maintained its lead for most of the third, even with D.J. getting his 3rd foul and a technical as well as Henderson getting his 4th foul.  A Bird step-back from the wing gave the Celtics a 75-73 lead at the end of the 3rd and gave Larry 16 points in the quarter and 25 overall.

Boston grabbed a four-point lead early in the 4th when M.L. Carr put back a Bird miss.  But Erving swung momentum back towards Philly with a three from the wing at the end of the shot clock.  It gave Dr. J 20 points.  Philly took the lead when Threatt found Cheeks on a 3-on-1 break for a layup.  But Boston regained it at 83-82 when Henderson got a basket on a Philly goaltending.  Then Bird found Maxwell cutting down the middle for a layup and Henderson found McHale with a lob.  Boston led 87-82 but Moses was just starting to establish himself against a Parish-less Celtics team.  Moses finished the game with 27 rebounds.

One of them was an offensive board and put back of a Cheeks miss to cut the lead to 87-84.  Then after McHale committed his 4th foul, Moses scored on a hook in the post to tie the game at 89.  Boston regained a three-point lead despite McHale committing his 5th foul but Bobby Jones found Moses for a layup and then Toney gave Philly a 93-92 lead with 1:30 left with a layup.  D.J. later committed his 5th foul but Bird tied it with a free throw.

Then with 36 seconds left and the shot clock down near the end, Erving hit a tough elbow jumper over Bird to give the 76ers a 95-93 lead.  Bird tied it with 18 seconds left on a baseline shot where Philly thought his feet hit the ground before he released the shot.  Philly didn’t call timeout and that may have cost as Bird intercepted a Cheeks pass to Toney.  Larry, however, airballed a half-court shot and when the ball landed out of bounds there was still 1 second left.  Philly this time called timeout and Bobby Jones inbounded to Erving on the baseline.  His shot went in but was clearly late (even the Philly fans didn’t boo the call… if you can believe THAT, they knew it).  The game was going to overtime tied at 95.

The overtime started quickly as Henderson, Malone, Maxwell, Erving, Cheeks and D.J. got field goals and the game was tied at 101.  Then Toney hit a banker from the wing to give Philly the lead.  The scoring stopped for a few minutes as D.J. got called for a travel, Bobby Jones missed a jumper, Maxwell committed his 4th foul on a charge, and finally McHale blocked a Toney shot and the ball was knocked off Philly with 41 seconds left.  With 30 on the clock, Maxwell tied the game with two free throws.  The 76ers went to Malone against McHale.  Kevin however was able to block his shot and there was a wild scramble for the ball that ended when Bird undercut Cheeks at half court and was called with his 4th foul with 4 seconds left.  However, Boston wasn’t over the limit.  So Philly took it out of bounds and Toney lost the ball at the buzzer.  We were headed to overtime number 2.

Philly started off fast in the 2nd OT as Erving scored on a finger roll from the post and Toney got a layup after Bobby Jones saved the ball from going out of bounds.  D.J. then missed two free throws and Bird committed his 5th foul.  Maxwell then committed his 5th and 6th foul and an Erving free throw gave Philadelphia a 108-103 lead with 3:19 left.  But then after McHale and Malone exchanged field goals, D.J. found Bird for a left-handed hook.  Then McHale found Buckner for a layup and a foul.  Quinn missed the free throw though that could have tied the game at 110.

Philly responded as Erving kicked out to Cheeks for a jumper at the top of the key.  Then after Bird hit two free throws, Erving hit a banker from the wing at the end of the shot clock and the 76ers led 114-111.  Malone then blocked a Bird shot and Bobby Jones hit two free throws after McHale fouled out with 32 seconds left.  Cheeks then cemented the game by knocking the ball out of bounds off of Boston.

Philadelphia had beaten Boston in 4 of their 6 matchups that season and the thought was that even though Philly was behind Boston in the standings, they were still the champions until they were knocked out and it would be a very interesting matchup if Boston and Philly met again in the playoffs.  We would not get the chance to see that.

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (33) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (22) – Power Forward

Kevin McHale (12) – Center

Gerald Henderson (16) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (13) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Scott Wedman (6)

Quinn Buckner (8)

M.L. Carr (4)

Greg Kite (0)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

-

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (29) – Small Forward

Marc Iavaroni (2) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (32) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (10) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (20) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Bobby Jones (6)

Sam Williams (4)

Clemon Johnson (7)

Sedale Threatt (9)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

April 5, 1984 – Los Angeles Lakers 129 @Utah Jazz 115

For this ball game played in Las Vegas, there was really only one story-line.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needed 21 points to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA’s all-time career scoring list.  The Lakers came into the game with a 4-game lead over Portland in the Pacific Division for the top spot in the Western Conference.  Utah was leading the Midwest Division by 3.5 games and were set to make the first playoff appearance in their 10-year history.

The Jazz had the NBA’s leading scorer in Adrian Dantley, as well as young stars in Darrell Griffith and Rickey Green.  Also young 7’4″ center Mark Eaton was causing havoc on the defensive end.  The Jazz had acquired veteran forward John Drew from Atlanta after Drew had drug problems as a member of the Hawks.  Their #1 pick in 1983 was NC State forward Thurl Bailey.

Magic Johnson and Byron Scott started the game with 3 combined field goals and Utah called timeout down 6-0.  But then Dantley got them started with a driving finger roll and a foul.  Kareem got his first points on a left-handed sky-hook in the lane.  Later, he got a reverse slam on a Mike McGee assist and then he got a three-point play after getting by Eaton with a spin move in the post.

Kareem’s scoring was matched by Dantley as the Jazz stayed with L.A.  Kareem finished with 12 points in the first quarter after he got another three-point play (this time when Eaton hit him on an elbow jumper) and then James Worthy found him for a slam.  Dantley scored 15 first quarter points as both teams were shooting off the charts.  Magic also had 11 points as his outside shot was falling.  The Lakers led 41-39 after one quarter.

The Lakers started the 2nd quarter just like they started the game, with a 6-0 run.  Scott found Bob McAdoo for a short jumper, Michael Cooper found Worthy for a wing jumper, and Scott got an up-and-under to fall after Mitch Kupchak got a block.  Utah stayed within striking distance thanks to John Drew but they could never grab the lead.

Kareem hit a hook in the lane for his 14th point but the Lakers in the 2nd were led by Magic, Scott and Worthy as they built a 12-point lead.  A Utah 6-0 run cut it to 75-69 before Worthy found Kareem for a slam at the halftime buzzer.  Abdul-Jabbar needed just 5 points now to pass Wilt.

Kareem’s first 2nd half field goal was, naturally, a sky hook that gave the Lakers an 89-77 lead.  Later, Worthy got a breakaway slam on a Magic lead pass and then Kareem kicked out to McAdoo for a wing jumper.  L.A. was leading 94-77 and the game really started to become secondary to getting Kareem the record, especially as the Jazz were denying him the ball inside.  Abdul-Jabbar only got two points in the third but L.A. did lead 104-89 going into the fourth.

After Worthy and Drew exchanged field goals, Worthy finally found Kareem for a slam and he had 20 points and had tied Wilt’s record.  The crowd was really starting to get into it now.  While it was supposed to be the Jazz’s home-away-from-home but of course there were a lot of Lakers fans in Las Vegas, plus everybody wanted to see a record set that was equivalent to Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record.

Kareem missed one long sky hook going for the record, but then Magic got the ball in transition, didn’t have numbers, slowed it down and then this happened:

After that happened, the interest in the game was all but over.  Each team rested their starters and the Lakers went on to an easy victory.  Kareem finished with 38,387 career points, a record that’s going to be really, really, really hard to break.

The Lakers went on to be the top seed in the West while Utah finished as the 2-seed after winning the Midwest Division.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Mike McGee (17) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (2) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22) – Center

Magic Johnson (23) – Point Guard

Byron Scott (24) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

James Worthy (20)

Bob McAdoo (8)

Michael Cooper (4)

Larry Spriggs (4)

Swen Nater (0)

Mitch Kupchak (5)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Utah starters (points scored)

Adrian Dantley (23) – Small Forward

Thurl Bailey (10) – Power Forward

Mark Eaton (3) – Center

Rickey Green (6) – Point Guard

Darrell Griffith (13) – Shooting Guard

Utah bench (points scored)

John Drew (24)

Jeff Wilkins (10)

Rich Kelley (4)

Jerry Eaves (6)

Bobby Hansen (4)

J.J. Anderson (12)

Tom Boswell (0)

Utah Coach: Frank Layden

kareem in vegas Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain

At top, Kareem with his father in the background during David Stern’s presentation in Las Vegas.  At bottom, Kareem and Wilt shaking hands before the Lakers next home game after the record was set *photos courtesy of Youtube and Inside Southern California

April 26, 1984 – East Quarterfinals, Game 5: New Jersey Nets 101 @Philadelphia 76ers 98

The New Jersey Nets had made the playoffs in the past two seasons but had failed to win a game.  They had not won a playoff game since coming into the NBA from the ABA in 1976.  They took care of that in the first two games in Philadelphia, taking a shocking 2-0 lead.  Perhaps almost as shocking, the 76ers won the next two games in Jersey to bring the series back to an all-or-nothing Game 5.

New Jersey had acquired Otis Birdsong in 1981 and drafted Buck Williams and Albert King that same year.  In 1982, they acquired Darryl Dawkins from the 76ers and in 1983, they acquired Michael Ray Richardson from Golden State.  These players along with former ACC rivals, Mike O’Koren and Mike Gminski, comprised the core of the Nets.

Michael Ray Richardson had, in particular, burned the 76ers and he continued his assault early in Game 5 at the Spectrum.  He stole the ball on the opening tip and took it for a driving layup.  Then after an Andrew Toney three-point play, Richardson hit an elbow jumper on a Dawkins kickout.  Then he went coast-to-coast after a Buck Williams defensive rebound.  Michael Ray’s pull-up from the foul line put Jersey up 10-5.  Then Williams hit a turnaround from the post.

Philadelphia got back into it though with free throws as Dawkins committed 3 early fouls.  New Jersey kept its lead though led by Richardson and Birdsong.  Michael Ray had 12 first quarter points while Otis had 8.  The last two of which came on a pull-up from the elbow to give the Nets a 31-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Birdsong committed his 3rd foul early in the 2nd but Jersey’s bench came to the rescue.  Darwin Cook and Gminski each got field goals and then Albert King found Birdsong for a layup on a 3-on-1 break.  This put New Jersey up 41-30.  But then Richardson got his 3rd foul and Philly methodically crept back.  A Maurice Cheeks basket on a Buck Williams goaltending cut the lead to 45-43 and later Cheeks hit two free throws to give Philly a lead.  The 76ers gained as much as a five-point lead after field goals from Toney and Cheeks.  New Jersey cut it to 53-50 at the half.

Philly maintained a 57-52 lead after two Bobby Jones field goals.  But Jersey went on a 6-0 run led by Birdsong’s two steals and two field goals.  But Malone started to establish himself.  He drew the 4th and 5th fouls on Dawkins and scored 6 points, the last of which gave Philly a 69-64 lead and gave Malone his 19th and last point of the game.

Birdsong found Williams for a layup and then O’Koren found Birdsong for a baseline jumper.  Richardson later found King for a wing jumper to tie the game at 71.  Three points from Marc Iavaroni put Philly up 74-72 but Birdsong tied it again with a pull-up from the baseline.  Toney gave the 76ers the lead again on a driving reverse but Michael Ray tied it again at 76 with an elbow jumper at the buzzer.

With the game tied at 78 and the Nets threatening to put pressure on the mighty world champion 76ers, Philly broke off a run that seemed to finish the game.  Bobby Jones hit two free throws and then Jones outletted to Clint Richardson for a bareakaway.  Then Toney got a steal and Clint a layup.  After New Jersey cut it back to two on an Albert King slam over Clemon Johnson, Philly broke back ahead on a Clint baseline jumper.

A Cheeks steal and layup gave Philly a 90-83 lead and the Nets called timeout with 7:08 left.  It was in the 4th quarter in the 1983 playoffs that Moses Malone would out-work his tired opponents and finish the deal for the 76ers.  This didn’t happen in Game 5 versus the Nets.  Some Malone misses (on easy shots too) and Philly turnovers allowed the Nets back in it.

Buck Williams hit two free throws, Dawkins found King for a wing jumper, Buck hit a baseline jumper and then Michael Ray scored on a breakaway three-point play after a Birdsong steal.  Philly’s only response was a Cheeks jumper at the end of the shot clock and the game was tied at 92.

After Dawkins gave New Jersey the lead with two free throws, the 76ers went to Erving.  Julius had had a quiet game so far but in the next two possessions he was loud.  The Doctor hit a turnaround banker from the post to tie it and then he went 1-on-1 versus King and hit another banker from the wing to give the 76ers a 96-94 lead.

Richardson came right back with a driving layup down the lane.  Then King stole a Moses handoff to Erving and was fouled.  He hit two free throws with under a minute left to give the Nets the lead.  Moses missed a turnaround.  Erving got the offensive rebound but was stuck in the air and threw the ball to Richardson.  Michael Ray pushed it ahead to Birdsong.  He missed a driving layup but King tipped it in and the Nets led 100-96.

Erving missed from the wing and Michael Ray hit the clinching free throw that ended up sealing the game.  The Nets had their first ever playoff series win in the NBA.  They would not get another one until 2002.  The 76ers would have some good teams the next few years but their championship window pretty much closed with this upset loss to New Jersey.

New Jersey starters (points scored)

Mike O’Koren (4) – Small Forward

Buck Williams (17) – Power Forward

Darryl Dawkins (4) – Center

Michael Ray Richardson (24) – Point Guard

Otis Birdsong (24) – Shooting Guard

New Jersey bench (points scored)

Albert King (15)

Darwin Cook (4)

Mike Gminski (9)

Reggie Johnson (0)

New Jersey Coach: Stan Albeck

-

Philadelphia starters (points scored)

Julius Erving (12) – Small Forward

Bobby Jones (12) – Power Forward

Moses Malone (19) – Center

Maurice Cheeks (16) – Point Guard

Andrew Toney (22) – Shooting Guard

Philadelphia bench (points scored)

Clint Richardson (8)

Clemon Johnson (2)

Marc Iavaroni (7)

Philadelphia Coach: Billy Cunningham

April 27, 1984 – East Quarterfinals, Game 5: New York Knicks 127 @Detroit Pistons 123 (OT)

A classic game to say the least to cap a classic series.  The Knicks Bernard King came into Game 5 averaging 42.2 points per game in the first four games.  But led by Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka, the Pistons had won Game 4 at New York to force a Game 5 back at Joe Louis Arena.

Joe Louis Arena was normally the Red Wings’ home facility but the Pistons had it in Game 5 because their normal home, Pontiac Silverdome, was hosting a tractor pull (seriously? a big NBA playoff game was moved because of a tractor pull? times were different, man).

King and Isiah did get it going early on the unnatural surroundings.  Isiah found Tripucka with a whip pass from half court for a layup to give Detroit an 8-6 lead.  A Tripucka feed to Kent Benson gave Detroit a 12-6 lead but a Bernard King steal and breakaway slam cut the lead to 18-17 and gave King 8 points.  Then after a Detroit field goal, King hit a jumper from the post and then Rory Sparrow found Louis Orr for a layup on a 3-on-2.  King then gave New York a 23-20 lead on a short pull-up.

A Tripucka double-pump from the post and a foul tied the game at 23 and later a Tripucka offensive rebound and three-point play put Detroit up 30-25.  The first quarter concluded by going back-and-forth from there.  It ended with the Knicks reserve guards combining for a buzzer beater.  Darrell Walker penetrated and found Trent Tucker for a corner jumper.  It cut the Pistons lead to 36-31.

The Knicks then started the 2nd quarter with an 8-2 run concluded when King hit a pull-up after a between-the-legs dribble.  The game stayed that close through the half and continued into the fourth quarter, where we pick up the action.  King had continued his demolition of the Pistons defense (they weren’t quite the bad boys yet) with 28 points.  Tripucka led Detroit with 21 and Bill Cartwright got his 20th point on two free throws to put New York up 92-90.

Isiah hit a step-back for only his 14th point to tie the game.  But then Cartwright kicked out to Ray Williams for a corner three and then King hit two free throws after Benson committed his 5th foul.  Isiah and Bill Laimbeer also had 5 fouls for Detroit at this point.  After King hit a turnaround from the post over Benson to put the Knicks up 99-94, he committed his 5th foul and Tripucka hit two free throws.

But then Cartwright eventually gathered a Williams miss and put it back in while he was fouled.  Cartwright got another slam on a Williams feed and New York led 104-98.  Williams then committed his 5th foul but Tripucka missed two free throws with 2:20 left and Detroit looked in dire straights after King hit a pull-up from the baseline to put New York up 106-98.

After an Isiah pull-up from the elbow, New York called timeout with 1:45 left.  They then ran down the shot clock and Williams hit a pull-up as a dagger.  But back came Isiah, who hit another pull-up from the elbow while Rory Sparrow hit him on the wrist.  The three-point play cut the lead to 108-103.  Isiah then got a steal from Sparrow right after he crossed half-court.  Rory fouled him trying to get it back and Isiah hit two free throws.

King was fouled on a jumper with 1:05 left and hit two free throws but Sparrow fouled Isiah again with 58 seconds left.  It was Rory’s 6th foul.  But Isiah only made 1-of-2 and the Knicks took the rebound on the 2nd miss and pushed with Williams finding King for what seemed to be the back-breaking slam.  But Isiah pushed it right back down and hit a finger roll in the lane while Williams fouled him.  Williams fouled out with that and Isiah’s three-point play cut the lead to 112-109.  The Knicks then inbounded to Louis Orr in the back court.  Orr stepped out of bounds though and Isiah hit another pull-up in the lane with 36 seconds left.  New York’s lead was down to 112-111 and they called timeout.

They decided to clear the side out for King.  Bernard went 1-on-1 versus Earl Curetan and connected on a baseline pull-up for his 40th point and with 26 seconds left, New York led 114-111.  After a Detroit timeout, Isiah quickly took a Laimbeer handoff and nailed a three from the top of the key to tie the game.  Incredibly, Isiah had scored 16 points in a minute and 45 seconds.

New York turned the ball over after a timeout and Isiah was set to go 1-on-1 for the last shot versus Darrell Walker.  Walker came through though and stripped the ball from Isiah with 5 seconds left.  Walker spotted Tucker ahead and Trent was fouled by John Long.  But fortunately for Detroit, the officials ruled that the foul came after the buzzer (which was the correct call) and the game was going into overtime.

Laimbeer started overtime was rebounding an Isiah miss and hitting a jumper in the lane.  Curetan then blocked a Walker shot but Tucker stole Earl’s outlet and hit a wing jumper to tie the game at 116.  Laimbeer then fouled out trying to get an offensive rebound and King tip-dunked a Louis Orr miss after Louis had rebounded a Bernard miss.  King then rebounded a Tripucka miss and Cartwright hit a turnaround from the post to put the Knicks up 120-116.

Tucker hit a free throw and then after a Tripucka miss, Walker drove the lane for a leaner to give New York a 123-116 lead with 1:29 left and Detroit called a timeout.  Isiah to the rescue! Thomas took an inbounds pass and nailed a long three from the top.  But King answered with a turnaround from the baseline.  Isiah responded with a left-handed scoop and New York turned it over on the inbounds with 1:06 left.

After the Detroit inbounds pass, Tripucka was tied up by King.  On the jump ball, King controlled it to Tucker but Vinnie Johnson stole it and Curetan got a layup to cut the Knicks lead to 125-123.  But then Isiah was forced to commit his 6th foul on Cartwright.  Bill made two free throws for his 29th point.  Without Isiah, Detroit didn’t threaten again.  They would eventually become more than the Isiah show but it would take a few more years.  For the Knicks, it was on to Boston.

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (44) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (4) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (29) – Center

Rory Sparrow (4) – Point Guard

Ray Williams (17) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Louis Orr (8)

Darrell Walker (4)

Trent Tucker (5)

Ernie Grunfeld (2)

Marvin Webster (10)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

-

Detroit starters (points scored)

Kelly Tripucka (23) – Small Forward

Kent Benson (4) – Power Forward

Bill Laimbeer (14) – Center

Isiah Thomas (35) – Point Guard

John Long (14) – Shooting Guard

Detroit bench (points scored)

Vinnie Johnson (16)

Terry Tyler (7)

Cliff Levingston (2)

Ray Tolbert (0)

Earl Curetan (8)

Lionel Hollins (0)

Detroit Coach: Chuck Daly

1984.knicks-pistons

Bernard King *photo courtesy of Image Slides

May 6, 1984 – East Semifinals, Game 4: Boston Celtics 113 @New York Knicks 118

After the great series for Bernard King versus the Pistons, Boston’s Cedric Maxwell said before their series versus the Knicks that King wouldn’t score 40 against the Celtics.  In the first two games in Boston, he was a profit as King was held down (including only 13 points in Game 2) as Boston easily won those games.  Then in Game 3 in New York, the Knicks won a close game as Bill Cartwright and Ray Williams picked up their scoring as King only added 24.

Now in a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game on CBS, the Knicks were trying to tie the series and King was trying to shake free.  He was helped by teammates early as Trent Tucker and Rory Sparrow hit jumpers to give the Knicks a 4-0 lead.  King hit his first shot, a pull-up from the post area after a spin, to give New York an 8-2 lead.

King hit his first five shots as he was aggressive in getting the ball and attacking Maxwell.  This production helped as Cartwright got 2 early fouls.  New York took an 11-point lead when Ray Williams found Marvin Webster for a layup.  They maintained that lead at 36-25 at the end of the first quarter.  King had 14 points.

Two free throws from Darrell Walker put New York up 13 but then Cartwright committed his 3rd foul.  Boston’s front court then got going as Kevin McHale hit a jumper in the lane, Maxwell got a layup and a foul and then Larry Bird got a layup in traffic to cut the lead to 38-33.  King answered with a tough shot in the lane and then later he took an alley-oop from Williams and was fouled on the slam.  New York led 45-37 and Bernard had 21.

New York had a 11-point lead later when King committed his 3rd foul.  But players like Louis Orr, Truck Robinson and Sparrow stepped it up to keep New York’s margin.  Sparrow hit a pull-up jumper in the lane with 20 seconds left in the half to put the Knicks up 66-55.  The score stayed that way when the buzzer went off.

Trouble struck the Celtics early in the 3rd when both Bird and Maxwell committed their 4th fouls.  King hit two free throws to put the Knicks up 70-57.  But then Cartwright committed his 4th foul and Robert Parish, as well as McHale, got going.  King kept New York ahead though, their margin went back to 81-71 when he took an alley-oop from Williams.  That was Bernard’s 30th point.

Parish’s turnaround from the post cut the lead to 81-75 and gave Parish 16 points, including 9 in the third.  Bird then found Scott Wedman for a corner jumper and the lead was four.  Boston went with four front-court people (with Wedman and then Bird playing guard) for the rest of the game.  It may have ended up costing them.

Another Parish turnaround from the post cut the lead to 83-81 but King answered with a jumper in the lane.  McHale cut it back to two with a good inside move after a fake.  But Dennis Johnson fouled Williams on a shot with 1 second left in the quarter.  Ray made both free throws to give New York an 87-83 lead after three quarters.

Bird started the 4th quarter with a pull-up from the wing and then a fade-away from the post to tie the game at 87.  It was the first tie of the game and Boston had never had the lead.  New York regained a 92-89 lead when Darrell Walker put back a miss and was fouled.  Later, King found Williams on the break to put New York up 94-89.  Then after two Bird free throws, King hit a baseline pull-up and then Williams a fall-away from the baseline.  Boston called timeout down 98-91.

Boston later cut it back to 102-97 when Parish kicked to Dennis Johnson for a driving layup and the 5th foul on Cartwright.  However, King answered with a runner in the lane.  This gave Bernard 40 points and made Maxwell’s guarantee obsolete.  The story of the next few minutes was Boston getting a basket but New York immediately responding.  The key was Williams, who was much too quick for whatever forward Boston put on him because of K.C. Jones’ decision to go with four front-court people.

Williams’ jumper from the top of the key put New York up 112-105 but then King committed his 5th foul.  But Maxwell missed both free throws and Walker rebounded his own missed slam and put it back in for a 114-105 Knicks lead.  Bird responded with a left-handed hook in the lane but King hit a free throw to put New York up 115-107 with 1:51 left.

Bird hit a corner jumper and a D.J. skip pass.  Johnson then got a steal and was fouled on the break.  With 1:16 left, D.J.’s two free throws cut the lead to 115-111.  Williams then missed from the wing and D.J. hit a driving banker with 52 seconds left.  New York called timeout as their lead was cut to 115-113.

They responded with a great inbounds execution.  King inbounded to Truck Robinson with a skip pass.  Truck, who had been frustrated with his lack of offensive opportunities, found a cutting Cartwright for a quick slam.  Boston called time with 41 seconds left.  But Robinson eventually got a steal and Webster was fouled on the break with 24 seconds left.  He made 1-of-2 free throws but after Bird missed a three, Boston let New York run out the clock.

The series was tied at 2-2 and it was far from over, but first there was the second-half of the May 6 double-header on CBS, it included both Western Semifinals and two great games.

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (29) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (13) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (20) – Center

Gerald Henderson (3) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (20) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (21)

Danny Ainge (0)

Scott Wedman (5)

Quinn Buckner (0)

M.L. Carr (2)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

-

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (43) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (8) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (10) – Center

Rory Sparrow (8) – Point Guard

Trent Tucker (6) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Ray Williams (18)

Louis Orr (9)

Darrell Walker (11)

Marvin Webster (5)

Eric Fernsten (0)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

May 6, 1984 – Western Conference Semifinals: Los Angeles Lakers 122 @Dallas Mavericks 115 (OT)

The Mavericks were in the playoffs for the first time ever.  And they had survived Seattle in the 5th and final game of the first round in overtime, 105-104.  But after the first two games in Los Angeles, the Mavs seemed out of their league.  The Lakers had posted 134-91 and 117-101 victories.  Dallas did win Game 3, 125-115, in Dallas but Tommy Heinsohn (broadcasting the Celtics/Knicks game from earlier) mentioned that he thought Dallas would be happy that they got one.

But Dallas would prove that they were legitimately out to tie the series.  They jumped out to a 6-2 lead in Game 4 but Magic led the Lakers back, and then showtime happened in Dallas.  Magic for Worthy on the break for a three-point play and then on the next possession, Magic found Cooper on the break for a layup and a foul.  After this quick six points, L.A. led 16-8.

The Lakers took an 11-point lead in the first, but Mark Aguirre kept Dallas alive.  His turnaround from the post and then two free throws cut the lead to 28-22.  Then after Byron Scott found Bob McAdoo for a layup, Dallas scored 5 points in a row to cut the lead to 30-27.  The Lakers led 34-30 at the end of the quarter.

Dallas cut the lead to one early in the 2nd quarter, but L.A. kept the lead.  It stretched to 45-37 when McAdoo hit back-to-back jumpers.  The lead stayed at that margin throughout the quarter as Kareem led the Lakers, while Aguirre and Rolando Blackman kept the Mavericks within range.  L.A. led 61-53 at the half.

The Lakers scored their first 7 points of the 2nd half on offensive rebounds and took a 10-point lead.  The Lakers had the big advantage inside as the Mavericks had nobody to play Kareem and even their solid forwards of Aguirre and Jay Vincent were undersized.  Later, Magic found Kareem for a layup and a foul and then Kareem outletted to Scott who hit Worthy for a layup.  The Lakers led 73-60 at this point.

Five straight points from Aguirre cut the lead back to 77-69 but then Kareem found Magic on a cut.  Magic missed the first shot but followed up and was fouled.  Then Worthy found Magic for another layup and the lead was back to 13.  The Lakers lead would swell back-and-forth from 11 to 13 for the rest of the quarter.  It ended with L.A. up 90-79.

The Mavericks started chipping away in the fourth as their bench came to the rescue.  Kurt Nimphius hit back-to-back jumpers to cut it to seven but a Kareem skyhook in the lane put L.A. back up 96-87.  Then Nimphius found Dale Ellis for a slam and later Ellis hit two free throws.  Then on the next Mavs possession, Blackman challenged Kareem by driving inside.  He scored against the big guy and drew a foul on him.  The lead was down to 96-94 after the three-point play.

Later, after Kareem and Blackman exchanged field goals, Derek Harper drove the lane and banked one in to tie the game at 98.  Magic quickly hit Kareem for a slam but Blackman responded with an elbow jumper.  The Lakers went back to Kareem.  He hit a sky hook in the lane and was fouled.  Then on the next possession, the man who became the 2nd all-time leading playoff scorer in this game hit a turnaround from the post.  L.A. led 105-100.

Then the Mavericks rookie guards came to the rescue again.  Blackman kicked out to Harper for a wing jumper and then Ellis put back an Aguirre miss to cut it to one.  Then with 2:14 left after a loose ball foul on Worthy, Harper hit two free throws to give the Mavericks their first lead in a long time at 106-105.  16 seconds later, Cooper hit two free throws for the Lakers and L.A. led by one again.  McAdoo then blocked a Pat Cummings shot but then he traveled at the other end as Magic tried to hit him in transition.

Dallas had a chance to lead again but disaster struck.  Aguirre missed a turnaround and as he was chasing the offensive rebound, he landed on his hip.  He was out for the game.  The Lakers eventually led 108-106 with 31 seconds left when Cummings drove to the lane from the right side.  He made a left-handed scoop and was fouled.  He missed the free throw though that could have given the Mavericks the lead, but a certain Dallas player didn’t notice that.

After a Lakers timeout, they went to Kareem but he air-balled a turnaround shot.  Ellis rebounded and gave it to Harper.  The rookie dribbled around as it looked like he was setting a play but instead he was running out the clock.  He did so and then in a bizarre second when the crowd and his teammates looked stunned, Derek Harper realized that the game had still been tied and now they were going to overtime.

In the extra period, Harper initially made up for his blunder as he hit a jumper from the elbow and then got a steal that led to two Vincent free throws and a 112-108 Mavericks lead.  But then Cooper hit a driving layup and then McAdoo got a steal and a slam to tie it up.  Vincent then made a shot from the post but was called for an offensive foul.  Not only did the bucket not count but Vincent fouled out on the play.  Without Aguirre, Dick Motta had to go to a guard in Elston Turner.  While Turner was known for his defense, he had to play McAdoo with the lineup the Lakers had out there.

Magic found Cooper for a cutting layup and then he scored on an offensive rebound.  Dallas called timeout with 2:03 left but couldn’t do anything.  Magic grabbed a miss for his 10th rebound and a triple-double.  Then McAdoo scored in the post over Turner and L.A. led 118-112.  They salted the game away at the free throw line to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

The Lakers easily won Game 5 to take the series.  Aguirre did play in Game 5 but only scored 9 points.  Despite the loss and the big mistake from Derek Harper, Dallas would be around for the rest of the decade and Harper would develop into a solid player and make a major contribution to a Finals team a decade later.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

Michael Cooper (17) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (4) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33) – Center

Magic Johnson (14) – Point Guard

Mike McGee (13) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

James Worthy (19)

Bob McAdoo (12)

Byron Scott (10)

Larry Spriggs (0)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Dallas starters (points scored)

Mark Aguirre (34) – Small Forward

Jay Vincent (10) – Power Forward

Pat Cummings (8) – Center

Brad Davis (9) – Point Guard

Rolando Blackman (21) – Shooting Guard

Dallas bench (points scored)

Dale Ellis (10)

Kurt Nimphius (9)

Derek Harper (14)

Elston Turner (0)

Dallas Coach: Dick Motta

Derek-harper

Derek Harper’s gaffe cost the Mavericks a chance to win Game 4 *photo courtesy of the Icky Shuffle

May 6, 1984 – West Semifinals, Game 4: Utah Jazz 110 @Phoenix Suns 111 (OT)

At the same time that Los Angeles/Dallas was happening on CBS, some viewers got to watch Game 4 between Utah and Phoenix.  The Suns had reinvented their team in the last few seasons, becoming more physical.

This physicality was personified in one move, acquiring Maurice Lucas.  Lucas along with James Edwards had become the inside players for Phoenix.  Meanwhile, high-flying Larry Nance and guards Walter Davis and Kyle Macy rounded out the starters.  Coach John MacLeod used all of his bench, which included veterans Alvan Adams and Alvin Scott.  The Suns had also re-acquired Paul Westphal for his final season.  They had gotten Rick Robey from Boston for Dennis Johnson.  Along with them were young players in Rod Foster, Charles Pittman and Mike Sanders.

The Suns had imposed their physicality on the Jazz after Utah took Game 1 at home.  Phoenix had actually won 7 of their final 8 games to finish at 41-41 and they stunned 3rd-seeded Portland in five games in the 1st round.  Phoenix tied the Jazz by winning Game 2 102-97 in Utah before blowing the Jazz out in Game 3 in Phoenix.

But Utah was out to set their own physical pace in Game 4.  They brought Jeff Wilkins into the starting lineup to replace Thurl Bailey at power forward and each starter contributed for Utah as they stayed with the Suns.  Phoenix’s attack in the first period was Maurice Lucas.  Lucas got a layup and a foul on Davis penetration to give Phoenix a 29-25 lead.  Then Lucas got a steal and breakaway for his 17th point.  Phoenix led 33-29 at the end of the quarter.

Lucas continued his attack in the 2nd quarter.  His corner jumper gave Phoenix a 44-36 lead.  The margin stayed at eight for most of the rest of the half.  Eventually, Utah’s veteran physical forward Tom Boswell got a steal and hit a free throw to cut the lead to 55-51 at the half.  Lucas finished the first half with 23 points.  And while he didn’t score a field goal in the 2nd half, the veteran found himself in a big situation later.

Wilkins showed his physical play by picking up his 4th foul early in the 2nd half but Darrell Griffith (the leading three-point shooter that season) nailed a trey from the wing while Boswell was fouled.  The four-point play cut the lead to 57-55.  Walter Davis and Griffith then matched points for the rest of the quarter, but Phoenix kept its lead.  They led 77-76 going into the 4th.

The Jazz took a brief lead when reserve veteran center Rich Kelley hit two free throws.  But it didn’t last long.  Nance got a reverse on a Lucas lob.  Davis hit a pull-up from left of the lane.  Adams found Davis on a cut.  Then Adams drew Mark Eaton’s 5th foul and made a free throw.  Phoenix led 84-78 but then Adrian Dantley came alive.  He hit two free throws and then two perimeter jumpers (although with Adrian Dantley, one should say ‘two perimeter set shots’) and the game was tied at 84.

Boswell eventually found Griffith to complete a 2-on-1 break and Utah took an 88-86 lead.  Davis tied it with an elbow jumper but Lucas committed his 5th foul and Utah took a four-point lead on a Rickey Green jumper.  Edwards then hit back-to-back shots in the lane to tie it again but then Green and Dantley got field goals and Utah led 96-92.

An Edwards free throw cut it to three and then with 1:31 left, Lucas outletted to Davis for a breakaway slam.  Griffith committed a mistake by fouling Davis on the shot and Walter’s three-point play tied the game at 96.  Dantley and Davis then exchanged field goals.  Utah ran down the shot clock.  Green penetrated and kicked out to Griffith.  The man nicknamed Dr. Dunkenstein lined up and nailed a high-arcing three from the wing and with 37 seconds left, Utah led 101-98.

After a Phoenix timeout, Davis drove and missed but Adams tipped it in.  Utah then ran the clock down as there was a two second differential between the shot clock and game clock.  Doug Collins, announcing the game for CBS, said that Phoenix needed to play good defense and they would get the ball back with 2 seconds left.  He then was disappointed when Adams wrapped up Dantley with 6 seconds left.  In hindsight, Doug will probably look back on that and say it was a smart foul because there is no guarantee that you’ll get a rebound off the rim and a timeout in 2 seconds.

As it was, Dantley hit two free throws and Utah led 103-100 with 6 seconds left and Phoenix called timeout.  Westphal came in and inbounded to Davis, who came out to the left wing from under the basket.  Walter rose up and launced a three over Griffith and it swished in with 3 seconds left.  Utah got a timeout but Dantley missed a runner from the top of the key at the buzzer.  This game was going into overtime just like L.A./Dallas.

It took 2:00 into overtime before Dantley got a breakaway to give Utah a lead.  Dantley then hit two free throws and then later penetrated and found Eaton for a three-point play that fouled out Larry Nance and gave Utah a 110-105 lead.  Davis then hit a wing jumper with 1:30 left to cut the lead back to three.  Griffith then missed two free throws and Davis tipped in an Adams miss.  Phoenix got a timeout after Dantley missed from the wing with Utah’s shot clock running out.  There were 22 seconds left and it was 110-109 Jazz.

Phoenix looked around for Davis and looked inside to Lucas but they weren’t open and Macy ended up taking a wing jumper.  He missed but the long rebound caromed back out to him.  Lucas then came outside and got the ball.  He drove into Eaton and drew the big center’s 6th foul on a controversial block-charge call (Eaton actually stood straight up as Lucas ran into him, maybe if he’d have flopped he’d have gotten the call.. sad to say).

Lucas had scored just one point in the 2nd half and he looked nervous on the line with 4 seconds left.  But he nailed both shots (in fact, the second one bounced in off the front rim).  Utah called a timeout and set up a nice play.  Green came off a screen and headed to the basket.  Griffith hit him in stride with the inbounds pass but, perhaps the quick Green was going too fast, he missed a wide open layup at the buzzer.  The Suns, like the Lakers, had a 3-1 lead.

The Suns would win this series in 6 games and play the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.  For Utah, this was the first of 20 consecutive playoff appearances.  That year, they would draft John Stockton and the next year, Karl Malone.

Utah starters (points scored)

Adrian Dantley (37) – Small Forward

Jeff Wilkins (5) – Power Forward

Mark Eaton (10) – Center

Rickey Green (11) – Point Guard

Darrell Griffith (24) – Shooting Guard

Utah bench (points scored)

John Drew (3)

Thurl Bailey (6)

Rich Kelley (2)

Jerry Eaves (8)

Tom Boswell (4)

Utah Coach: Frank Layden

-

Phoenix starters (points scored)

Larry Nance (12) – Small Forward

Maurice Lucas (26) – Power Forward

James Edwards (15) – Center

Kyle Macy (10) – Point Guard

Walter Davis (32) – Shooting Guard

Phoenix bench (points scored)

Alvan Adams (7)

Rod Foster (2)

Paul Westphal (3)

Rick Robey (0)

Charles Pittman (1)

Mike Sanders (2)

Alvin Scott (1)

Phoenix Coach: John MacLeod

Lucas

Maurice Lucas added toughness to the Suns and hit the two free throw that won Game 4 versus Utah *photo courtesy of nba.com

May 10, 1984 – East Semifinals, Game 6: Milwaukee Bucks 98 @New Jersey Nets 97

After defeating Philadelphia in Game 5 in the Spectrum, New Jersey went to 4-0 on the road in the playoffs by beating Milwaukee in Game 1.  But the Bucks rebounded and won 3 of the next 4 games and had a chance to wrap it up in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

There weren’t many changes in Milwaukee from 1983.  Marques Johnson, Bob Lanier, Sidney Moncrief and Junior Bridgeman were still the core players.  Brian Winters had retired and the Bucks had acquired Mike Dunleavy from San Antonio.  Dunleavy was now the starting point guard after Nate Archibald went out for the season.  Milwaukee also had young players in Paul Pressey and Alton Lister who contributed.

The Nets got off to a fast start in Game 6.  Darryl Dawkins scored 6 early points, including a big dunk after a good post fake, and the Nets took an 11-3 lead.  The lead stayed at that margin until the 6th man Bridgeman came into the game.  Junior scored 6 quick points to tie the game at 20.  Then his 3rd field goal and 8th point gave Milwaukee a 23-22 lead.  But Michael Ray Richardson hit a wing jumper at the buzzer and New Jersey led 24-23 at the end of the quarter.

Milwaukee ran off a quick 10 points to start the 2nd quarter as Bridgeman got out on the break twice for layups and Pressey added two field goals.  After a New Jersey tiemout though, their bench came in to help them out.  Darwin Cook got 3 points and his 2nd assist on a pass to Dawkins for a layup tied the game at 35.  Then Cook got a steal and layup to give New Jersey the lead.

The Nets kept their lead for the rest of the half as Dawkins led them with 14 points.  But Marques and Bridgeman kept Milwaukee in the game.  Marques got a block on Mike O’Koren on the break when New Jersey could have gone up by seven.  Then at the other end, Pressey penetrated and dished to Lanier for a layup which cut the lead to 46-43 at the half.

The 2nd half started with Marques Johnson dishing to Sidney Moncrief on the break for a three-point play and O’Koren’s 4th foul.  This tied the game and was Moncrief’s first field goal.  Then Dunleavy got it to Lanier on the break to give Milwaukee the lead.  Dunleavy followed it up by alley-ooping to Johnson.  After O’Koren committed his 5th foul, Moncrief got back-to-back field goals (including a driving slam down the lane) to put the Bucks up 55-50.

Milwaukee eventually took a nine-point lead before New Jersey went on a 6-0 run, which included Richardson finding Otis Birdsong for a layup on the break and then Birdsong finding Dawkins for a slam.  The run was halted when Richardson got a technical.  Milwaukee kept its lead as Bridgeman and Paul Mokeski got some points off the bench.  Birdsong missed two free throws with a few seconds left in the quarter and New Jersey trailed 73-67.

With the Nets season on the line, Dawkins started the 4th with a turnaround in the post over Lanier while Big Bob fouled him.  Then after Moncrief hit a turnaround in the post, Albert King finally came alive for New Jersey and hit two straight jumpers to cut the Bucks lead to 75-74.  Then after a Bucks timeout, Birdsong tied it with a free throw and Dawkins hit a jumper from the pivot for a Nets lead.  Then after a Bucks turnover, Birdsong hit a pull-up from the wing and Milwaukee called another timeout, down 79-75.

Marques then tipped in a Moncrief miss and Dawkins hit another baseline jumper.  Then after the Bucks gave up the ball, Pressey came into the game without being buzzed in so Milwaukee had 6 players on the court when New Jersey inbounded the ball.  The game stopped for a second but the refs didn’t call a technical, I guess figuring they made a mistake by not buzzing in Pressey after a stoppage of play.  With the way the final margin turned out, this was a big non-call on the technical and it wouldn’t be the last controversial call of the day.

New Jersey held a lead at 83-80 before Marques rebound-slammed a Moncrief miss and then got a slam on a baseline drive to give Milwaukee the lead.  Marques’ 11 points in the 4th quarter would perhaps be his last great moment with the Bucks.  A month before the 1985 season opened, Johnson was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers along with Bridgeman and Harvey Catchings for Terry Cummings, Craig Hodges and Ricky Pierce.

Johnson and King traded field goals for the next few minutes.  Marques found Lanier for a layup and a foul.  The three-point play gave Milwaukee a 91-89 lead and was perhaps the last great moment for Lanier in his career as he was in his final season.  Moncrief then got a steal and layup and then after a Pressey block, Moncrief found Paul for a layup and Milwaukee led 95-89.

After a Nets timeout, Dawkins hit two free throws to make him 13-for-13 from the line.  Then Buck Williams, who was having a quiet game, put back a King miss and with 1:32 left, Richardson tied it at 95 with two free throws.  Michael Ray then committed his 5th foul and Pressey hit 1-of-2 free throws.  Dawkins missed a turnaround and Moncrief rebounded.  Then with 41 seconds left, Marques handed off to Pressey for a wing jumper and a 98-95 Bucks lead.

After a New Jersey timeout, King missed but Williams got the rebound and kicked out to Richardson for a wing jumper to cut the lead to one with a 4-second differential between the shot clock and game clock.  Milwaukee ran it down before Pressey airballed.  Moncrief got the rebound but missed right at 4 seconds.  There was a scramble and then a tie-up.  However, the officials ruled that time had run out (wrongly, there was 1 second left but there was obviously no replay at the time.. in fact, New Jersey couldn’t have done much with a jump ball at their own basket with 1 second left).

The Nets fans weren’t happy as things were being thrown onto the floor, but there was going to be no reversal.  The Bucks were moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were no match for Boston.

Milwaukee starters (points scored)

Marques Johnson (25) – Small Forward

Alton Lister (0) – Power Forward

Bob Lanier (17) – Center

Mike Dunleavy (0) – Point Guard

Sidney Moncrief (16) – Shooting Guard

Milwaukee bench (points scored)

Junior Bridgeman (20)

Paul Pressey (9)

Paul Mokeski (8)

Harvey Catchings (3)

Lorenzo Romar (0)

Milwaukee Coach: Don Nelson

-

New Jersey starters (points scored)

Mike O’Koren (4) – Small Forward

Buck Williams (7) – Power Forward

Darryl Dawkins (29) – Center

Michael Ray Richardson (11) – Point Guard

Otis Birdsong (22) – Shooting Guard

New Jersey bench (points scored)

Albert King (15)

Darwin Cook (5)

Mike Gminski (4)

New Jersey Coach: Stan Albeck

May 11, 1984 – East Semifinals, Game 6: Boston Celtics 104 @New York Knicks 106

When the teams got back to Boston, the Celtics did what they did in the first two games.  They killed the Knicks 121-99 and held Bernard King to 30 points.  Danny Ainge and Darrell Walker got into a scrum and Dennis Johnson hurt his shoulder.  D.J. sat out in Game 6.

Both teams started slowly but Boston started slower.  With over 2:00 gone in the game, the Knicks had a 5-0 lead after three points from Truck Robinson and a Trent Tucker jumper.  Then after Bird hit a jumper in the lane, Bernard hit a jumper from the top for his first field goal.  After Bill Cartwright hit a jumper from the post to give New York an 11-4 lead, the Knicks next 13 points came from one man, guess who?

King started his assault with a coast-to-coast drive which included a crossover on Cedric Maxwell.  Bird and Gerald Henderson kept Boston in it and even cut the lead to 15-13 on a Henderson three-point play.  But King kept scoring to keep New York ahead.  Finally, after a Boston 6-0 run tied the game at 21, Rory Sparrow got on the board for the Knicks with a foul line jumper and then Ray Williams hit from the lane and was fouled.

Boston again tied it at 28 late in the quarter but King hit two free throws to put him at 18 points for the quarter and give the Knicks a 30-28 lead after the first.  The Knicks bench got them off to a good start in the 2nd as Williams, Louis Orr and Walker got field goals.  After Boston cut the lead to 36-34, King went coast-to-coast again past 4 guys and was fouled.  He hit the free throw for his 21st point.

Orr then scored on a putback and Cartwright hit two free throws for a 43-34 Knicks lead.  Boston countered with a 7-0 run but New York came back with an 8-0 spurt, which was finished when King hit on a driving layup.  Boston called timeout down 51-41.  Bird brought Boston back and finished the first half with 18 points.  But Bernard finished with 29 and the Knicks took a 59-51 halftime lead after an unexpected basket by Eric Fernsten, who was only in the game to kill the half.

The Knicks lead continued into the 2nd half and they took a 69-60 lead on an Orr driving layup.  Then Boston went on its mini-run as Bird hit a pull-up from the baseline.  He then found Henderson for a baseline jumper and Maxwell scored on a drive.  Then after a Marvin Webster free throw, Scott Wedman found Bird for a layup and the lead was down to 70-68.

New York kept its slim lead as Robert Parish picked up his 4th foul.  Even with that, Bird continuing to attack.  His wing jumper cut it to 77-74 and then a Maxwell free throw cut it to two, but then Robinson got a free throw and a field goal.  The Knicks got the ball back for the last shot of the quarter.  Williams went 1-on-1 and hit a baseline fadeaway over McHale as the buzzer went off.  New York led 82-75 going into the fourth.

The Knicks bench, again, helped them keep the lead and then King hit a pull-up from the baseline to give the Knicks an 88-83 lead.  Parish committed his 5th foul and Williams hit another fadeaway, this time from the top, to give New York a 91-83 lead.  Boston cut it back to five but New York increased the lead again helped by a K.C. Jones technical.

Sparrow found Orr for a left-handed driving layup to give New York a 98-87 lead and Boston called timeout.  It didn’t help initially as King took a turnover coast-to-coast for a big slam.  Later, Bernard hit a fadeaway in the post over McHale after he and Kevin had exchanged words in what was becoming a high intensity game.  This field goal gave Bernard 44 points and the Knicks a 104-91 lead with just under 4:00 left.

After Henderson hit a wing jumper, Bird got a steal and was going for a breakaway layup.  Rory Sparrow, hustling back on defense, ended up taking a swing and clubbing Bird with a fist as Larry went up for the shot.  It was called a simple two-shot foul but Sparrow was ejected.  Bird hit the two free throws and then a Henderson floater cut the lead to 104-97.  New York called timeout with still 2:24 left.

New York then committed a 24-second violation and McHale tipped in a Bird miss.  Then M.L. Carr got a steal and Bird was eventually fouled on a second shot attempt.  Perhaps the Celtics got riled up from the Sparrow fist, especially on the defensive end.  Bird this time only hit 1-of-2 free throws and Boston trailed 104-100.

The Knicks set the offense and went to Cartwright.  Big Bill drew Parish’s 6th foul with 1:13 left and then hit two free throws.  After a Boston timeout, Quinn Buckner was fouled as Bird found him in the lane.  Buckner hit both free throws and then after a Cartwright miss on a baseline jumper, Ainge (who was getting booed soundly by the Knicks fans after his Game 5 fight) drove the lane and scored.  With 30 seconds left, Boston trailed 106-104.

The Celtics played straight up on defense as New York ran the clock down.  Finally, Williams drove and missed a banker.  McHale got the rebound and called timeout with 6 seconds left.  Boston had a chance to tie it and boy did they get an opportunity.  Maxwell inbounded to Bird.  Larry drove on the right side but was too hard on a short banker.  Maxwell got the rebound but his seemingly easy putback fell off as the buzzer sounded.

New York had surprisingly took Boston to a 7th game.  Even if the Celtics won, the question remained would they be tired from this or battle-tested.

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (35) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (14) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (6) – Center

Gerald Henderson (20) – Point Guard

Scott Wedman (3) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (16)

Danny Ainge (4)

Quinn Buckner (6)

M.L. Carr (0)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

-

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (44) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (8) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (14) – Center

Rory Sparrow (5) – Point Guard

Trent Tucker (4) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Ray Williams (14)

Louis Orr (8)

Darrell Walker (2)

Ernie Grunfeld (2)

Marvin Webster (3)

Eric Fernsten (2)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

Bernard King scoring as Larry Bird looked on.  They were headed to a 7th game.  Photo courtesy of Slam Magazine

May 13, 1984 – East Semifinals, Game 7: New York Knicks 104 @Boston Celtics 121

Even though the Knicks had taken mighty Boston to a 7th game, they had not been close to winning any of the games at Boston Garden.  This game followed the same format as the winner was pretty much decided in the 2nd quarter.

The key was that Bernard King was not the same Bernard King that had shown up for Games 4 & 6.  A lot of that credit goes to the Celtics defense, who effectively denied him the ball as well as put pressure on the guards so that they couldn’t easily get him the ball.  Even with that, the Knicks were in it for awhile in the first quarter.  Truck Robinson and Rory Sparrow provided rare offensive contributions to tie the game at 6 early.

Early in the first, it was the Bird and Dennis Johnson show.  D.J. was back after sitting out Game 6 but his shoulder still wasn’t 100%.  Even with that, he hit a driving layup from the post after a spin and step-thru move and was fouled.  The three-point play gave Boston a 9-6 lead and then D.J. followed it up with a turn-around from the post.  Then Bird got a steal and fed D.J. on the break.  Dennis missed but Bird followed it up and was fouled.  Boston led 14-6.

The continued contribution of Robinson and Sparrow, along with two Bill Cartwright slams off Ray Williams assists, brought the Knicks back to tie it at 20.  But then King committed his 2nd foul and went out, and Bird hit four straight free throws.  Then after a Robinson hook in the lane, Bird hit a pull-up from the wing and then got a layup on a D.J. assist.  This gave Bird 15 first quarter points.  New York called timeout but it didn’t help much without King.  Two D.J. free throws with a second left in the quarter gave Boston a 36-26 lead and gave D.J. 11 points.

Boston eventually increased its lead to 44-30 when Bird found Robert Parish for a slam on a possession where all five Celtics touched the ball and there was little dribbling.  King got his first field goal on a lob pass from Williams after a timeout.  Knicks coach Hubie Brown got a technical after the play when he thought King was fouled (he was).  Bird hit the free throw and then Parish hit a turnaround from the post.  The Celtics led 47-32 at this point.

The margin stayed at that point for the rest of the half as the closest New York got was 9 points.  Bird continued his excellence as the crowd was chanting M-V-P (like the New York crowd was doing for Bernard).  The first half in this game might have solidified Bird’s 1984 regular season MVP.  He hit from inside and from outside.  He also hustled and rebounded and was a big part of the Celtics great team defense.  His scoring output ended with 4 straight free throws to give Boston a 15-point lead and give him 28 points.  The Celtics led 67-52 at the half.

The Celtics excellence continued in the second half even though King did get going with 11 points in the third.  Gerald Henderson found Bird for a cutting layup to start the half.  Later, Bird hit a walk-up three from the wing to give Boston an 83-62 lead.  The final big dagger was thrown in when Scott Wedman hit a long three at the third quarter buzzer to give Boston a 96-75 lead.

With that, the Celtics cruised to the Eastern Conference Finals as Bird finished with a triple-double.  Parish and D.J. also finished with over 20 points and even with a big lead, the Celtics defense never seemed to let the Knicks breathe.  New York, to their credit, played hard throughout the game and made it at least look competitive.  In fact, the Celtics didn’t take out their starters until there was a minute left.

They had also taken the Celtics to a 7th game with only one major scorer (and really only three players you could count on at all to score).  The Knicks next playoff game would be in Boston as well, but it wouldn’t come until 1988 and only Cartwright, Trent Tucker and Louis Orr were still on the team.  Tucker would be the only one remaining after the 1988 season.

Boston would have a much easier time with Milwaukee as they beat them 4-1 to reach the NBA Finals.

New York starters (points scored)

Bernard King (24) – Small Forward

Truck Robinson (16) – Power Forward

Bill Cartwright (19) – Center

Rory Sparrow (14) – Point Guard

Trent Tucker (5) – Shooting Guard

New York bench (points scored)

Ray Williams (8)

Louis Orr (8)

Darrell Walker (8)

Ernie Grunfeld (0)

Marvin Webster (2)

New York Coach: Hubie Brown

-

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (39) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (9) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (22) – Center

Gerald Henderson (6) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (21) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (9)

Danny Ainge (4)

Scott Wedman (7)

Quinn Buckner (2)

M.L. Carr (0)

Greg Kite (0)

Carlos Clark (2)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

1984-celtics-knicks_display_image

Darrell Walker drives against the trio of Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, and Quinn Buckner *photo courtesy of Turn on the Knicks

May 25, 1984 – Western Conference Finals, Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers 99 @Phoenix Suns 97

Coming into the Western Conference Finals, it looked like a mismatch.  The 41-41 Suns going against the supremely talented Lakers (so talented that guys like James Worthy, Byron Scott and Bob McAdoo were coming off the bench).  The first two games and, in fact, three of the first four games went according to script.  The Lakers blew the Suns out three times and lost an overtime game in Game 3.

Still, they were going back to the Forum in Game 5 to clinch the series and prepare for Boston.  Then something strange happened.  The Suns took a 10-point halftime lead and a 13-point lead after the third quarter and held off the Lakers 126-121 as each of their five starters scored at least 20 points.

Now back in Phoenix, the Suns got off to a flying start.  Kyle Macy found Larry Nance for a slam.  The James Edwards hit a field goal and two free throws for a 6-0 Suns lead.  Phoenix eventually took a 10-3 lead when Walter Davis hit a breakaway layup after spinning a full 360 to avoid Michael Cooper.  Worthy, now in the starting lineup, hit two field goals but then Nance found Edwards for his 8th point on a layup and then Nance outletted to Davis for another breakaway (a conventional slam this time).

Worthy and Magic brought L.A. back to within 14-13 but then the high-flying Larry Nance hit a driving double-pump in the lane and was fouled.  Nance then made a greater play then any of his points, he stuffed a Kareem slam-dunk attempt.  Kareem, in frustration and perhaps shock, committed a loose-ball foul.  Alvan Adams hit two free throws for a 19-13 Suns lead.

Los Angeles eventually got back into a three-point lead after a 9-0 run but the Suns bench came to the rescue.  First, Charles Pittman hit a driving layup to cut L.A.’s lead to 26-25 after one quarter.  Then Rick Robey put back a Nance miss and hit two free throws to give Phoenix a five-point lead.  The Suns eventually took a 41-33 lead on a Davis alley-oop to Nance.

That lead increased to 11 when the only Suns starter we haven’t mentioned in this game summary so far, Maurice Lucas, hit a three-point play on a drive down the lane.  Alvin Scott and Paul Westphal hit field goals to keep the lead at that margin.  Then the biggest surprise came when Alvin Scott nailed a three from the top to give the Suns a 53-41 lead.  Brent Musburger, who was gushing over the Phoenix performance in the first half and was insisting the Lakers were in for a war, stated that he’d believe anything if Alvin Scott was going to nail threes.

The Lakers responded to this first challenge well as they closed the half on a huge 7-2 run which included a Worthy three-point play against Lucas on the break.  This finish to the half quieted the crowd a bit and allowed the Lakers to hang around with a chance in the end.  Phoenix led 55-48 at the half.

The Suns did start off the 2nd half well as Lucas put back his own miss and then Davis hit a short pull-up after a steal.  L.A. called a quick 20-second timeout and seemed to right the ship again.  Kareem and Worthy got slams and the Lakers got out on the break more as Magic was rebounding and dishing.  Phoenix still had a 69-63 lead but Magic found Byron Scott for a baseline jumper.  Then Magic got a steal and breakaway and on the next opportunity, he found Rambis on the break for a layup to tie the game.  Then Magic found Worthy on the break to give L.A. a 71-69 lead.

The scoring went back-and-forth for the rest of the quarter as the intensity picked up.  Eventually, a Paul Westphal driving layup gave Phoenix a 78-77 lead that they held going into the fourth quarter.

The Lakers forgotten man almost was Jamaal Wilkes.  Wilkes had been out for a few months with a viral infection and had not had his timing in the Phoenix series.  But he hit a corner jumper to give the Lakers an 80-78 lead.  Later, after Lucas and Byron Scott put the points up for their respective teams, Wilkes hit a wing jumper to give L.A. an 85-83 lead.  Davis tied it with a left-handed driving layup.  Cooper found Wilkes on the break to untie it but Davis brought it back to 87-all with a pull-up from the foul line.

After a Kareem sky-hook in the lane, Davis tied it again with a pull-up from the elbow.  Kareem hit another sky-hook from the post and then Worthy got a breakaway off a Cooper steal.  Davis hit another pull-up from the baseline but Worthy answered with a driving left-handed layup and a foul.  Worthy missed the free throw but L.A. still led 95-91 with under 5:00 left.

The next few minutes were characterized by intensity and great defense as the scoring slowed down.  The Lakers repeatedly stripped balls away from the Suns as they were driving in for layups.  The strips resulted in more than one scramble on the floor that the Lakers won.  Phoenix responded at the other end with high-flying blocks of Los Angeles attempts.

Magic put back a Cooper miss to give L.A. a 6-point lead.  Lucas responded with a banker after another scramble possession for Phoenix with bodies on the floor.  With 2:32 left, Edwards hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to 97-94.  The Lakers got three chances on their next possession but eventually had to give the ball up with a three-second violation.  With 1:29 left, Lucas hit the first of two free throws to cut the lead to 97-95.

He missed the second shot but Macy hustled and stole the rebound away from McAdoo.  Macy then found Davis in the left corner with a cross-court pass.  Walter nailed the jumper and L.A. called timeout with 1:17 left and the game tied.  Magic fed Kareem in the post and then cut to the basket.  Davis, Magic’s man, double-teamed Kareem and Abdul-Jabbar eventually found Johnson for a layup and a 99-97 lead for the Lakers.

The Suns committed a 24-second violation after an Edwards airball.  But Lucas rebounded Magic’s miss and the Suns went in transition.  Magic, however, blocked Davis’ pull-up out of bounds with 17 seconds left.  Phoenix called timeout.  It was unclear where Phoenix was trying to go with the ball, or L.A. shut off Davis and Lucas (who one would think would be the two main options).  Edwards banked it too hard on a drive with 3 seconds left.  L.A. rebounded and threw it ahead to run out the clock and run into the Finals against Boston.

For the Suns, they would be killed by the Lakers in the first round of the 1985 playoffs.  Then they wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 1989.  None of the players on the 1984 team were around in 1989.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

James Worthy (22) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (7) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (13) – Center

Magic Johnson (16) – Point Guard

Michael Cooper (10) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (8)

Bob McAdoo (6)

Byron Scott (13)

Mike McGee (2)

Swen Nater (2)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Phoenix starters (points scored)

Larry Nance (11) – Small Forward

Maurice Lucas (21) – Power Forward

James Edwards (11) – Center

Kyle Macy (6) – Point Guard

Walter Davis (26) – Shooting Guard

Phoenix bench (points scored)

Alvan Adams (2)

Rod Foster (0)

Paul Westphal (7)

Rick Robey (6)

Charles Pittman (2)

Alvin Scott (5)

Phoenix Coach: John MacLeod

walter davis

Walter Davis had been an under-rated player since he came into the league but he would soon have drug problems *photo courtesy of Arizona Central

May 31, 1984 – NBA Finals, Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 121 @Boston Celtics 124 (OT)

For the first time since 1969, the Celtics and Lakers were meeting in the NBA Finals.  And for the first time since the 1979 NCAA Final, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would be facing off in a championship setting.  Magic and the Lakers got the first punch as they beat Boston 115-109 at the Garden in Game 1.  Magic finished with 10 assists and Kareem had 32 points on 12-for-17 shooting.

The Celtics got off to a better start in Game 2.  After Kareem missed a sky hook on the first possession, Gerald Henderson hit a driving layup.  Then Henderson found Cedric Maxwell on a 3-on-1 break for a three-point play.  Boston took a touchdown lead when Bird hit from the top of the key.  But the Lakers stayed within range as Magic hit four outside shots.

Boston eventually maintained a 27-20 lead led by Maxwell’s 9 points.  But then Bird hit a banker and Danny Ainge hit a pull-up from the elbow to give Boston an 11-point lead.  Magic led the Lakers with 14 points in the 1st quarter as L.A. trailed 36-26 after one quarter.

Boston maintained that margin in the second as Ainge and Scott Wedman were nailing perimeter shots.  The Lakers bench, led by Bob McAdoo and Byron Scott, kept the Lakers from being blown out and then James Worthy got going.  He put through two field goals and then Magic found him on the break for a three-point play.  Then Magic got a steal and fed Jamaal Wilkes for a corner jumper.  The Celtics lead was down to 59-53.  L.A. cut it further to 61-59 at halftime.

Kareem got going in the third as he hit three sky-hooks, the third of which gave L.A. their first lead at 66-65.  Dennis Johnson’s back-to-back jumpers regained a Boston lead and was Dennis’ only good moment of the game.  Kareem then made a spin move against Parish in the post and drove baseline for a reverse slam and a foul.  The game was now tied at 69.

Boston went on a quick 7-0 run capped off by a Maxwell three-point play.  But Worthy got going again with two three-point plays (one of which was D.J.’s 5th foul) and eventually back-to-back Michael Cooper layups put L.A. up 85-82.  Then Kevin McHale hit from the top and Bird from the post.  Danny Ainge continued his strong play off the bench with a pull-up from the top of the key and then a little leaner from the elbow after a fake.  A Magic wing jumper cut Boston’s lead back down to 90-87 after three quarters.

Three-point plays by McAdoo and Worthy cut Boston’s lead to 98-97.  Boston kept its lead at the free throw line but eventually it came back to haunt them.  Kareem scored 5 points and L.A. trailed 108-106.  Parish then missed two free throws but the Lakers couldn’t tie it and Bird made two free throws.  After Worthy found Magic for a banker, Bird split a pair of free throws with 1:34 left and Boston led 111-108.

On the next possession for L.A., Kareem found a cutting Worthy for a slam over Maxwell and a foul on Cedric.  The three-point play tied the game and Worthy had hit 11 field goals in 12 attempts.  After a Boston timeout, D.J. forced a shot from the elbow at the end of the shot clock and airballed it.  He compounded this by fouling out and sending Magic to the foul line with 35 seconds left.  Magic made two and it was 113-111 Los Angeles.

On Boston’s next possession, Henderson was short on a jumper from the elbow.  McHale got the offensive rebound and was fouled.  McHale clanged both shots off the back rim and L.A. called timeout with 18 seconds left.  Worthy then inbounded to Magic, Magic threw it back to Worthy and James threw a cross-court pass to Byron Scott.  Henderson anticipated the pass, stole it and drove for an uncontested layup that tied it with 13 seconds left.

It was a dramatic play that can be viewed right here.

After an L.A. timeout, Magic got the ball and was looking for Kareem inside.  As he was doing this, he lost track of time and pulled a Derek Harper, running the clock out without getting off a shot.

Boston kept its momentum going early in overtime when Henderson found Parish for a layup.  But then McAdoo hit a free throw and Magic hit from the top to give L.A. a lead.  Then Kareem fed Magic on a baseline cut for a layup.  Boston called timeout.  It didn’t help initially as L.A. got the ball back.

But Kareem missed a sky-hook.  Bird got the rebound and outletted to Henderson for a three-point play on the break.  The game was now tied at 118.  Worthy hit a free throw.  McHale hit a turnaround from the post.  McAdoo hit a short jumper after Magic found him with a whip pass.  It was 121-120 L.A. and they had a chance to increase it but, again, Kareem missed a sky hook and Boston called timeout with 25 seconds left.

The Celtics moved the ball and Henderson eventually found Wedman for an open corner jumper that Scotty nailed.  After a Lakers timeout, they almost gave up the ball but Magic knocked it off of Bird out of bounds with 8 seconds left.  They inbounded to McAdoo in the corner.  He tried to drive around Parish but Robert reached in, knocked the ball away and stole it.  Bird eventually got fouled with 2 seconds left.

The two free throws nailed it down because L.A. was out of timeouts and threw a long pass out of bounds.  Boston had survived this one to tie the series.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

James Worthy (29) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (0) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20) – Center

Magic Johnson (27) – Point Guard

Michael Cooper (9) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (13)

Bob McAdoo (16)

Byron Scott (5)

Swen Nater (2)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (27) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (16) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (18) – Center

Gerald Henderson (16) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (10) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (13)

Danny Ainge (12)

Scott Wedman (10)

Quinn Buckner (2)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

June 6, 1984 – NBA Finals, Game 4: Boston Celtics 129 @Los Angeles Lakers 125 (OT)

Coming back to the Forum for Game 3, L.A. ran past Boston with a 137-104 win.  The 33-point defeat was the Celtics worst playoff defeat and was the 2nd largest margin of victory in an NBA Finals game at that point.  After that, everyone thought the Celtics were done.  Larry Bird had even said that they played like sissies.

The Lakers continued to run their fast break early in Game 4.  The difference for the Celtics was that Dennis Johnson got off to a good start.  D.J. hit three outside shots after going 2-for-8 in Game 3.  The other difference was the Celtics getting the ball inside to Parish for easy baskets.  They were able to do this by bringing Larry Bird outside.  Even though Larry was effective in the post, the Lakers were crowding the lane when he was inside.  They couldn’t do that with him outside because of his effectiveness away from the hoop as well.

With those differences, the Celtics were able to stay close in the first quarter.  Magic did lead the Lakers with 11 points and was the key to a 12-2 run that put L.A. up by 10.  Boston responded with an 11-0 run and the Lakers led 33-32 after one quarter.

Laker backup center Swen Nater scored 6 points early in the 2nd as L.A. started the period on a 14-1 run.  Bob McAdoo and Jamaal Wilkes also contributed to that run off the bench.  That 47-33 lead ended up being the biggest for the Lakers but L.A. maintained that lead as James Worthy and Kareem continued their effectiveness.  Worthy had the best move of the first half as he spun past Bird in the post and reverse jammed it while the crowd ooh’d.  Boston kept within 68-58 at the half.

Early in the 2nd half, a Bird three from the corner cut the lead to 72-67.  But then Parish committed his 4th foul.  He had to go out after contributing 18 points and 7 boards.  Kevin McHale came in for him and was about to be a part of perhaps the most memorable play of that series, for better or worse.  Kareem grabbed a defensive rebound with the Lakers up 76-70 and outletted to Worthy.

James quickly hit Kurt Rambis for a layup but before he could go up McHale clotheslined him and there was a near skirmish.  Perhaps tempers were a bit more flared at that point but there didn’t seem to be much other than the L.A. crowd chanting ‘Boston sucks’.  Tempers flared a bit more a few minutes later though when Bird and Kareem got into a shouting match after some physical play.  Kareem was angry and showed some rare emotion after he spun by McHale in the post and scored while Kevin fouled him.

Kareem missed the free throw but the Lakers still led 82-74.  But then D.J. found Gerald Henderson for an elbow jumper.  McHale then hit his first field goal on a corner jumper after Boston had swung it from side-to-side.  Henderson followed with a corner jumper and the lead was cut to 82-80.  L.A. led 90-88 going into the 4th quarter.

Boston finally took the lead when D.J. hit a baseline jumper.  That lead increased to 104-101 when Danny Ainge hit from the corner.  But then the Lakers went on a run that seemed to finish the game.  First, Kareem found Magic for a cutting layup.  Then Kareem got a defensive rebound and quick passes to Magic to Cooper to Worthy produced a fast break slam.  Magic found McAdoo for a corner jumper and then Kareem with an alley-oop.  L.A. led 109-104.

The teams traded baskets and free throws before the Lakers led 113-108 with 56 seconds left.  D.J. drove and missed.  McHale rebounded and missed.  Parish grabbed the board and missed a turnaround.  He hustled and got the ball again, scored, and drew Kareem’s 5th foul with 39 seconds left.  That hustle saved the game for Boston as they trailed 113-111.  Cooper missed from the elbow and Kareem committed a loose ball foul against Bird with 16 seconds left.  Kareem had to sit down with 32 points.

Bird nailed two free throws and L.A. called their last time out.  Without Kareem, the option was Worthy inside.  The Celtics put Parish on him.  Magic dribbled for awhile waiting for Worthy to get free.  Magic, this time, didn’t run out the clock but made another mistake as Parish intercepted the pass to Worthy and Boston called timeout with 4 seconds left.  They may not have gotten a good first shot but got a great second shot.  Bird missed a running three.  McHale rebounded but missed a short seemingly easy shot as time ran out.  There would be multiple overtime games in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974.

The overtime started with D.J. hitting from the elbow and then tipping in a Bird miss after Worthy hit from the post.  Two Henderson free throws (after he missed two) put Boston up 119-116.  But Parish had fouled out for the Celtics, which meant there was no matchup for Worthy inside.  James exploded with a jumper in the lane and then a turnaround over Bird from the post.  James then got a three-point play against Bird to put L.A. up 123-121.  D.J. found Larry for a layup to tie it up with 1:19 left.

Both teams then exchanged misses.  D.J. committed a loose ball foul against Magic after the Boston miss.  But with 35 seconds left, Magic bricked both shots and Boston called timeout.  Boston moved Bird around screen after screen to try and get away from Laker defensive ace Michael Cooper.  He finally got free in the post with Magic on him.  D.J. got him the ball and Larry hit a turnaround over his rival to give Boston a 125-123 lead with 16 seconds left.

After the Lakers timeout, Worthy drove and was fouled by McHale with 10 seconds left.  M.L. Carr talked to Worthy before the first shot and then after James clanged it off the rim, Maxwell greeted him with the choke sign.  Worthy made the 2nd and D.J. made 2 free throws.  The Lakers called their last timeout.

Worthy made the final mistake as Carr stole his inbounds pass and slammed it down to put the game away and even the series.  Boston had not only recovered from a 33-point loss to win a game at the Forum, but they had added a physical edge to the series that made it more memorable.

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (29) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (11) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (25) – Center

Gerald Henderson (13) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (22) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (9)

Danny Ainge (9)

Scott Wedman (5)

Quinn Buckner (0)

M.L. Carr (6)

Greg Kite (0)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

-

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

James Worthy (30) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (9) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (32) – Center

Magic Johnson (20) – Point Guard

Michael Cooper (10) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (2)

Bob McAdoo (13)

Byron Scott (2)

Swen Nater (7)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

mchale clotheslines rambis

McHale clotheslining Rambis may have turned around the 1984 NBA Finals *photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

June 12, 1984 – NBA Finals, Game 7: Los Angeles Lakers 102 @Boston Celtics 111

The teams split the next two games on their home court.  Boston won Game 5 at the Garden 121-103 as Larry Bird went 15-for-20 for 34 points and the humidity of the Garden affected the Lakers, especially Kareem who was 7-for-25 and was sucking oxygen.  In Game 6 back in the air-conditioned Forum, the Lakers outscored Boston 36-21 in the 4th quarter to win 119-108.

Now the teams were back in hostile Boston Garden for Game 7.  The crowd was pumped to say the least and one could feel the atmosphere and intensity.  The saying at the time that there was no better atmosphere than Boston Garden for a big game.  Both teams were dealing with injuries to key reserves.  Scott Wedman had been out since Game 4 for Boston with a hairline fracture and the Lakers were missing Bob McAdoo with an achilles tendon injury.

The Celtics started strong as Bird hit a banker from inside and Dennis Johnson went coast-to-coast.  The Lakers responded to D.J.’s make by hitting Kareem with a long pass and a three-point play.  The first quarter was back-and-forth like that as L.A. got out on the break while Boston countered with great passing and offensive rebounds.  The key to both was Cedric Maxwell.  Bird found Max twice for layups and he got on the boards and to the line.  Maxwell finished with 8 first quarter points.  It seemed like everyone else got into the act as well in a first quarter that ended with a 30-all tie.

The Lakers last lead was the first two points of the 2nd quarter when Michael Cooper found James Worthy for a slam.  Bird tied it with 2 free throws and then gave the Celtics the lead with a layup after a Danny Ainge post feed.  Maxwell found Quinn Buckner on the break for a layup and then Bird found  Ainge for a cutting layup.  L.A. called timeout down 38-32.

The Celtics continued their great passing and offensive rebounding to keep that lead.  Maxwell also continued his assault as well by continuing to get to the line.  Maxwell finished the first half with 19 points on 11-for-13 free throws.  The Lakers stayed within range though as they trailed 58-52 at the half.

The 2nd half was more of the same.  Gerald Henderson hit three straight jumpers to hold off a Lakers rally.  L.A did cut it to 73-72 when Magic found Kurt Rambis for a reverse.  Bird then hit a tough banker in the lane.  Kareem missed two free throws and Parish hit a hook in the lane and was fouled.  L.A. cut the Celtics lead back to 82-78 late in the third.

But then Kevin McHale hit a jumper from the post and Ainge from the wing.  Parish hit 3-of-4 free throws after getting some more offensive rebounds.  Parish had a huge contribution with 16 rebounds, including 8 on the offensive glass.  The quarter ended with McHale hitting two free throws with 2 seconds left after a breakaway.  Boston led 91-78 going into the fourth.

D.J. hit six quick points in the fourth told hold off L.A.’s initial rally.  The last of those points came on two free throws that put Boston up 99-85.  But then the Celtics started to slow down their game a bit and lost some rhythm.  Kareem got two buckets and Magic hit a free throw to cut it to nine.  Maxwell stemmed the tide with a running hook.

With 4:08 left, Cooper cut it to 101-93 with a three.  But Kareem missed a big sky hook on the next possession and Parish hit another free throw with 3:09 left after another offensive board.  Over the next minute, the Lakers treaded water and trailed 105-97 after a Maxwell free throw with 2:05 left.

Finally, Kareem hit a sky hook and was fouled by Parish with 1:56 left.  The three-point play cut the lead to 105-100.  After a Celtics miss, Magic pushed it up in transition.  But D.J. stole the ball from him.  Cooper blocked D.J.’s breakaway layup and Magic found Worthy for a short jumper to cut it to 105-102 with 1:15 left.

Bird missed a tough shot and Magic got the ball again in transition.  D.J. got another steal after Parish deflected a pass.  This time Cooper fouled Johnson on the breakaway.  With 45 seconds left, D.J. made both free throws for a 107-102 lead.  After an L.A. timeout, Cooper missed a three and Kareem missed a jumper.  Boston got the ball and worked it around until Bird was fouled with 26 seconds left.  At this point, the crowd was surrounding the court and a few got onto the floor.

Bird made the free throws and the Lakers called timeout.  The end of the timeout was spent by Celtic players telling the fans to get off the court and stay back off the sideline (and some fans spilled something on the floor that had to be cleaned up).  Eventually action resumed and Worthy missed a three.

Bird hit two more free throws with 10 seconds left and the Celtic fans finally got to rush the court after Cooper missed a three at the buzzer (just imagine if fans were allowed to rush the court today).  This was actually the first championship the Celtics clinched in Boston since 1966.  The players and fans celebrated into the night and the next day while the Lakers were left to ponder another loss to Boston in the NBA Finals.

Los Angeles starters (points scored)

James Worthy (21) – Small Forward

Kurt Rambis (7) – Power Forward

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (29) – Center

Magic Johnson (16) – Point Guard

Michael Cooper (16) – Shooting Guard

Los Angeles bench (points scored)

Jamaal Wilkes (4)

Byron Scott (4)

Swen Nater (0)

Mitch Kupchak (5)

Los Angeles Coach: Pat Riley

-

Boston starters (points scored)

Larry Bird (20) – Small Forward

Cedric Maxwell (24) – Power Forward

Robert Parish (14) – Center

Gerald Henderson (9) – Point Guard

Dennis Johnson (22) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Kevin McHale (10)

Danny Ainge (10)

Quinn Buckner (2)

M.L. Carr (0)

Carlos Clark (0)

Boston Coach: K.C. Jones

boston garden 1984 championship Red Auerbach Celebrates 1984 NBA Championship

At top, Celtics fans rush the court in celebration of the 1984 NBA Championship.  Meanwhile, inside the locker room (at bottom), Red Auerbach celebrates a 15th title with the Celtics franchise *photos courtesy of nba.com and basketballphotos.com

From → NBA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: