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NBA Roundup : Celtics Bring Sonics Back to Reality

November 28, 1987|DAN HAFNER

After their easy victory over the world champion Lakers Tuesday night, the Seattle SuperSonics were beginning to believe their press clippings.

They were starting to talk about winning the National Basketball Assn. championship, even though the season wasn't a month old.

Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, as they have often done with upstarts, brought the SuperSonics back to earth with a thud Friday night at Boston.

Bird, making his first start since injuring both Achilles' tendons two weeks ago, made six points in a three-minute stretch in which the Celtics fought back from a 100-93 deficit to win, 117-112.

The Sonics, who led most of the game, had the seven-point lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, but Bird, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson led the Celtics' drive.

Ainge made a three-point basket, Johnson had a steal and a basket, but it was a three-point play and a three-point shot by Bird that put Boston on top to stay.

The Sonics became the 34th consecutive visiting loser at Boston Garden in regular-season play despite a season-high 37 points by Dale Ellis. The Sonics had won four in a row, but all were at home. They are 1-4 on the road and 6-5 overall this season.

Bird rejoined the Celtics Wednesday and came off the bench to play 12 minutes and led a game-winning rally against the Atlanta Hawks.

His absence had given Darren Daye a chance to start five games in a row and prove to K.C. Jones that he could be a big help. The former UCLA player was a standout in the Celtics' two victories while Bird was out.

Daye made such an impression on Jones that he was back in the lineup at the forward spot opposite Bird, the position Kevin McHale is expected to reclaim sometime next month. Daye, for the second game in a row, was the Celtics' leading scorer. He scored 27 points, making 11 of 17 shots from the field, and took up the scoring slack for Bird, who had 19 points and was only 6 for 18 from the field. Bird played 35 minutes, including the entire last quarter.

Ellis was 14 for 23 from the field, including 3 for 4 on three-pointers. The Sonics outshot the Celtics and outrebounded them by eight.

"The only difference between us and the Celtics is the maturity factor," Sonic Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They've done it so many times."

Dallas 94, Chicago 93--The Mavericks took advantage of a rare off-night by Michael Jordan to build a big early lead at Dallas and barely hold on for the victory.

The Bulls went into the game with a 9-2 record, best in the NBA. But Jordan scored only eight points in the first half, and the Mavericks built a 20-point lead shortly before intermission.

Jordan finished with 25 points, leading a late Chicago rally. He was only 8 for 20 from the field, but his jumper cut the Mavericks' lead to 94-93 with 1:35 left.

Jordan then missed a shot with 25 seconds remaining. The Mavericks chose to run off the 24 seconds without taking a shot. The Bulls' Charles Oakley managed to get off a 30-foot shot in the one second that was left, but Roy Tarpley swatted it away.

Mark Aguirre kept the Mavericks from falling apart in the last quarter by scoring 11 of his 26 points. With 56 seconds left, after pulling down a rebound, Aguirre limped off the court. The extent of his injury was not known.

Indiana 88, Atlanta 86--Even though their best player, Dominique Wilkins was back in Atlanta with an ailing knee, the Hawks nearly pulled out a victory at Indianapolis.

In a game that was tied 18 times, the Pacers' Wayman Tisdale sank an eight-foot turnaround jumper with 26 seconds left for what proved to be the decisive basket.

After Tisdale's basket, John Battle missed on a drive for the Hawks, but the Hawks got the rebound. Doc Rivers then missed a three-point try, and the Pacers grabbed the rebound just before the final buzzer.

Cliff Levingston, who replaced Wilkins, scored 25 points, making 10 of 11 shots from the field, and grabbed 14 rebounds.

The good news for the Hawks was that Wilkins is not seriously injured. He will be put on a program to strengthen the knee and may play tonight when the Hawks in Atlanta against San Antonio.

"I think we played very well in the absence of Dominique, and we kept our composure most of the time," Atlanta Coach Mike Fratello said.

Detroit 143, San Antonio 111--The Pistons picked on the worst defense in the league to produce their biggest point production of the season in this game at Pontiac, Mich.

Adrian Dantley led the Pistons, who built an 18-point halftime lead, with 27 points, but five other Pistons scored in double figures. It was a good occasion to get Darryl Dawkins, just acquired from Utah, some playing time. Dawkins played the last four minutes and made a basket.

Utah 118, Houston 96--Karl Malone scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half at Salt Lake City and the Jazz built a 34-point lead on the way to a romp over the Rockets.

The Jazz built the big lead, which was 20 at halftime, largely because Akeem Olajuwon had an bad game. Olajuwon, 0 for 6 from the field in the first half, had only five points.

The Jazz is 7-0 at home this season and 0-5 on the road.

Ralph Sampson led the Rockets with 19 points. Center Mark Eaton had 7 blocked shots.

Phoenix 113, New Jersey 107--Mike Sanders scored a career-high 29 points and Walter Davis had 26 at Phoenix to lead the Suns.

The Suns built a 21-point lead after three quarters, but the Nets fought back to within five before running out of time.

Golden State 109, Philadelphia 103--At Oakland, the Warriors battled back from a six-point deficit to tie the score, 96-96, on a jumper by Rod Higgins, who then helped the Warriors win only their second game of the season by making six free throws in the closing minutes.

Higgins scored 28 points to lead Golden State (2-10). Charles Barkley scored 29 points and Cliff Robinson had 27 for the 76ers.

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