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NBA Playoffs Roundup : McHale Challenges Heckler as the Celtics Lose

May 09, 1987|DAN HAFNER

On a night when Isiah Thomas was setting an NBA record with a 25-point quarter in Detroit, the Boston Celtics' Kevin McHale also made news in Milwaukee.

With the Bucks on the verge of wrapping up a 126-121 overtime playoff victory, McHale went into the stands to challenge a spectator who had been heckling him.

There were only 24 seconds left when McHale fouled out, after which he went after the unidentified fan.

"The fan was pretty obnoxious," McHale said. "After 30 straight seconds of totally abusive language, spitting at me, and then throwing stuff at me, well, you are almost totally defenseless.

"I don't understand why someone would pay $25 for a ticket and then be so totally abusive."

McHale's action prompted the crowd to throw drinks at the Celtics, and McHale had to be escorted off the court by security personnel.

The Celtics had tied the score, 114-114, on a jumper by Robert Parish to send the game into overtime, which the Bucks dominated to gain their first win in the best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at Boston.

"Once we got it into overtime, I thought we had the advantage," said Boston's Larry Bird, who finished with 18 points. "I hate to say it, but they just deserved the win."

Detroit 108, Atlanta 99--Isiah Thomas scored a record 25 points in the third quarter at Pontiac, Mich., as the Pistons gained a 2-1 series lead.

Thomas' performance broke the playoff record of 23 points in a quarter shared by Bernard King of New York and Gus Williams of Washington.

Neither team had more than a four-point lead in the hard-fought first half, which ended in a 41-41 tie.

Then, Thomas took charge. In nine minutes, the Pistons scored almost as many points as they had in the first 24. They outscored the Hawks, 38-23, to go ahead, 79-64, and the Hawks were out of it.

In his record quarter, Thomas made 8 of 11 shots and had 4 steals, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

"We needed points," Thomas said of his flurry. "It couldn't come from our set offense.

"They had done a pretty good job in the first half on us, and we had done a good job on them. We needed some freestyle, to freelance. I just felt that I could do it."

Thomas, who had a total of 35 points, thought his anger and frustration over taunts by the Hawks contributed to his performance.

"They said some very unkind things about our basketball team in the newspapers," Thomas said. "Some things we don't deserve. We have a good basketball team. We work very hard. We didn't deserve that."

Thomas didn't spell out what angered him, but teammate John Salley said he didn't care for a report that said the Piston guards had been outplayed by the Hawks.

Atlanta Coach Mike Fratello said Thomas was unstoppable once he got going. "He's not a normal player," Fratello said. "You're talking about an unusual player, a great All-Star."

Kevin Willis scored 26 points to lead the Hawks. Dominique Wilkins had 22 before leaving with a sore leg in the fourth quarter, and Randy Wittman added 16.

For Detroit, Adrian Dantley scored 16 points, Salley 15, Bill Laimbeer 14 and Dennis Rodman 12.

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