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Celtics Are Nearly Perfect at the End : Pro basketball: They make 15 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter to beat Lakers, 129-119.

March 20, 1993|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They knew it was coming.

"You could see it. You could feel it. It was in the air," Laker Coach Randy Pfund said.

But knowing they were about to be walloped by the Boston Celtics' remarkable fourth-quarter comeback Friday didn't make the Lakers any more able to stop it.

Boston sank 15 consecutive shots, including 15 of 16 in the fourth quarter, for a 93.8% figure that matches the best ever against the Lakers. It contributed to the Celtics' 49 fourth-quarter points--the most against the Lakers since they moved to Los Angeles--and fueled a comeback 129-119 victory before a Forum sellout crowd of 17,505 that seemed weighted toward the visitors.

The Lakers had a 96-81 lead after a reverse slam by Elden Campbell, but the Celtics scored the next 10 points. A layup by Vlade Divac halted the tide, but only momentarily. The Celtics scored the next 13 points, tying the score, 98-98, on an outside jump shot by Xavier McDaniel with 7:25 to play and taking the lead for good on an outside shot by Dee Brown with 6:55 to go.

"Once we started hitting shots, it was like the playgrounds. Everybody was taking their man and going one on one," said McDaniel, who had 13 points in the fourth quarter and 22 overall. "I don't know who missed that one shot, but we were shooting the lights out."

The one shot was missed by Robert Parish. The Celtics (36-28) missed nothing else in winning for their third successive time at the Forum.

"It was our defense that really got the job done for us," said Reggie Lewis, who had 23 points, one behind Kevin Gamble's team high. "When we went to a trap, they couldn't come down and set up their half-court game. They were taking shots they didn't want to take, and we were doing an excellent job rebounding and starting the fast break."

Pfund blamed himself for not breaking Sedale Threatt back sooner and for not breaking the Celtic trap. "The oldest coaching move in the game is to throw a half-court trap at a team to try to take them out of their rhythm. . . . Their trap totally took us out of our half-court game."

From the start of the fourth quarter until the midway point, Boston outscored the Lakers, 22-4. The Lakers sank only two of their first nine shots, to nine of 10 for Boston. A three-pointer by A.C. Green brought the Lakers to within 123-119 with 43 seconds to play, but Brown made two free throws with 40.7 seconds to play and Anthony Peeler lost the ball on the Lakers' possession, sealing the defeat.

"It certainly wasn't the biggest lead ever surrendered, but it's as dramatic a turnaround as you'll ever see," Pfund said.

Said Green: "When you're playing out there, it's hard to keep track of all that. You know you're being bombarded, but you don't know the damage until you look at the scoreboard. It's two points here, two points there. At one point I said to myself, 'They're hitting everything.' "

Friday's start was Divac's 14th in a row since Sam Perkins was traded to Seattle. In the previous 13, Divac averaged 9.9 rebounds and 16.1 points in 35.6 minutes.

"My confidence is back," he said. "I had to just find myself on this team, find my position and what everybody wants from me. I have more confidence than before the All-Star break, and I'm playing more emotional, more tough mentally and that's a big thing."

Divac had three rebounds and seven points in the first half Friday, as the Lakers rolled to a 67-54 lead. His wasn't the biggest contribution--James Worthy had 16 points and Byron Scott and Sedale Threatt each scored 13--but Divac got the biggest ovation. That came when he stole the ball from Sherman Douglas, raced downcourt and made a one-handed dunk that gave the Lakers a 37-32 lead with 53.2 seconds to play in the first quarter.

"I'm shocked," said Divac, who finished with 17 points and fouled out with a minute to play. "That's our gift to the Celtics. I can't believe this, especially at home."

Laker Notes

Doug Christie played 10 minutes overall. He committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter. He finished with four points, committing four turnovers. . . . The Lakers will play host to 4,000 junior high and middle school students from 15 Los Angeles-area school districts Tuesday for their annual Stay in School Jam.

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