The matchup between Larry Bird and Michael Jordan Tuesday night at Chicago lived up to expectations--and then some.
Jordan, leading scorer in the National Basketball Assn., scored 42 points, and Bird, his closest pursuer, had 38. But Bird had the edge in the clutch, and the Celtics prevailed, 104-97, despite the absence of Dennis Johnson because of a shoulder injury.
It was practically a shootout between the two superstars in the last quarter. Both scored 16 points, but Bird did the damage in the closing minutes and it was decisive.
Jordan had only 10 points at halftime and none in the second period when the Bulls scored only 11 points and trailed, 45-39, at intermission.
Except for the point total, the 6-foot 9-inch Bird had a slight edge in other departments over the 6-7 Jordan. Bird led in rebounds (9-4), assists (8-6) and shooting (18 for 31 to 19 for 35).
Amazingly, though both handled the ball most of the time, they had only one turnover between them, by Bird.
Bird broke the game open in the middle of the fourth quarter after a Jordan jumper gave the Bulls an 80-78 lead.
Bird scored the next five points. Then, after the teams exchanged baskets, Bird scored again. With Jordan missing his last four shots, the Bulls' winning streak ended at four.
"And they say Larry Bird can't jump and gets tired," Coach K.C. Jones of the Celtics said. "But Larry's a complete package, and when we needed him in the fourth quarter, we had to go to him. The Bulls collapsed on Kevin (McHale) and Robert (Parish), so Larry had to make the shots or we couldn't win.
"Larry responded with the kind of game that makes him one in a million."
Bird wasn't too happy that he had to shoot the ball so much from outside.
"I didn't like taking that arching jump shot, but I had to take what the Bulls gave me.
"I didn't want to get into a shooting match with Jordan because he has a few more moves than I do. But I was open, so I took the shot."
Jordan praised Bird "for doing the kind of things that makes him a great player."
Cleveland 119, New York 111--Mark Price scored 9 of his career-high 29 points in the final four minutes at Richfield, Ohio, to assure Cavalier Coach Lenny Wilkens his 600th career victory in the NBA.
"I'm not too concerned with the victories, but I'm glad it's over because it can affect the players," Wilkens said after becoming the seventh coach to reach 600 wins. "I'm just happy to be with this team, they try so hard."
Red Auerbach leads all coaches with 938 victories.
The Cavaliers led by 20 points in the third quarter, but the Knicks fought back to within 3 before Price delivered the knockout punch.
Milwaukee 106, Philadelphia 103--Jack Sikma had 22 points and 8 rebounds at Milwaukee, but it was Terry Cummings who scored the big points in the last quarter that brought the Bucks from behind.
Cummings had eight points in the last 10 minutes, including a foul-line jumper that broke an 89-89 tie with 3:22 to play.
Cummings also scored the next basket, and Sidney Moncrief followed with a jumper to make it a six-point lead and end the 76ers' four-game winning streak.
There were five technicals called, two of them on Bucks' Coach Del Harris, who was ejected halfway through the third quarter.