Michael Adams, a former collegiate star in Boston, scored a career-high 31 points and had 8 assists and 5 steals Wednesday night to lead the Denver Nuggets past the Celtics, 124-119, ending their string of 34 consecutive regular-season victories at Boston Garden.
The loss was only the third in 84 regular-season starts for the Celtics at home since the start of the 1985-86 season. They had not lost a regular-season game in the Garden since their defeat by the Lakers on Dec. 12, 1986.
The Nuggets, who hadn't won in the Garden since 1979, withstood a 39-point first period by Boston. Denver charged back for a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and then hung on as Larry Bird scored 19 of his 40 points in the final 10 minutes.
"This is a big thrill," Denver Coach Doug Moe said. "We might not win here again for eight years. How many teams win here? When you beat Boston here you gain a big advantage. I hope they don't lose here again this season. We don't play them here again. Let them kill the other guys."
Adams, a 5-foot 10-inch former Boston College star, kept the Nuggets in the game in the first quarter, when he scored 13 points although the Celtics opened a 39-29 lead. But then Denver's ball-hawking tactics limited the Celtics to just 14 points in the second period, and the Nuggets took a 54-53 advantage at halftime.
Alex English, who scored 27 points, and Adams led Denver in the third quarter, when the Nuggets took a 90-78 advantage. The Celtics (11-7) trailed, 108-96, midway through the final quarter before Bird's hot streak helped Boston close the deficit to 116-113 with 1:12 left.
Adams then hit a pair of free throws, and the Nuggets (11-6) clinched the victory on a pair of free throws by Jay Vincent with three seconds left.
Philadelphia 94, Portland 86--Charles Barkley had 38 points and 24 rebounds and the undermanned 76ers outscored the Trail Blazers, 31-15, in the fourth quarter to win at Philadelphia.
"We had no one to guard Barkley," Portland Coach Mike Schuler said. "He's just a man among boys out there. He got every rebound down the stretch and that's the reason he is the great player that he is. He may be the toughest guy to guard in the league."
Trailing, 71-63, at the start of the fourth quarter, Philadelphia scored the first 11 points and shut out Portland for 3 1/2 minutes.
Barkley's 24 rebounds fell one short of the league high for the season, by Mark Eaton of Utah.
Philadelphia, with Tim McCormick, Roy Hinson and Chris Welp injured, dressed only nine players and did not use recently activated guard Andrew Toney. Portland played without Kiki Vandeweghe and Steve Johnson and also lost Caldwell Jones with an ankle injury with 8:52 left in the game.
Clyde Drexler had 24 points and Jerome Kersey 20 to lead the Trail Blazers, who lost for the second time in two nights after winning nine straight.
Dallas 125, Sacramento 98--The Kings found themselves on the wrong end of a devastating scoring run to open the game at Dallas.
The Mavericks hit 8 of their first 11 shots and jumped out to a club-record 17-0 lead, with 8 points coming from Rolando Blackman, and never looked back, handing Sacramento its sixth straight loss.
The Kings, who missed on their first eight attempts from the field, didn't score in the first 6:03. Franklin Edwards finally broke the drought with an 18-foot jump shot.
Blackman finished with 25 points and Mark Aguirre scored 28.
Sacramento trimmed a 59-49 halftime deficit to 6 points early in the third quarter, but Dallas put the game out of reach with a 28-4 run, stretching its lead to 89-61. Derek Harper of the Mavericks had 12 points and 3 steals in the third quarter.
Dallas' victory was its eighth in 10 games.
Phoenix 117, Atlanta 105--James Edwards scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Suns at Phoenix, snapping the Hawks' five-game winning streak.
Phoenix, which outscored the Hawks by 11 in the final quarter, beat Atlanta for only the third time in 10 meetings.
Larry Nance led the Suns with 21 points, while Alvan Adams had 18, Jeff Hornacek 17 and Jay Humphries 10 points, along with 13 assists.
Kevin Willis and Glenn Rivers each scored 22 points for Phoenix.
Golden State 113, Cleveland 112--Sleepy Floyd hit a 15-foot jumper with one second remaining at Oakland to give the Warriors the win, only their third in 16 games.
Floyd, who had missed two free throws with 19 seconds to go, inbounded the ball on the Warriors' final possession and then took a return pass from Larry Smith before shooting the game-winner. Cleveland's Mark Price missed a 25-footer at the buzzer on the Cavaliers' last chance.