Larry Bird tapped in a rebound with 55 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Boston Celtics a 110-109 victory over the 76ers in Philadelphia yesterday afternoon. It was the 24th victory in the last 26 games for the Celtics.
A jump shot by Cedric Maxwell gave the Celtics a 108-103 edge with 2:19 left in overtime. However, Philadelphia rallied on a steal and layup by Maurice Cheeks with 1:15 remaining and took a 109-108 advantage.
Philadelphia had a 99-95 lead on a jump shot by Cheeks with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter. But Bird made two free throws with 1:16 remaining and a follow shot by Kevin McHale with 41 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 99-99 and sent the game into overtime.
Philadelphia led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and built a 52-37 advantage at halftime behind Julius Erving's 23 points.
Boston rallied behind Maxwell and took its first lead of the game, 78-77, on two free throws by Danny Ainge at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter. Maxwell scored 17 points in the period.
Maxwell led Boston with 25 points; Bird and McHale each scored 20.
Boston Coach Bill Fitch said it was no coincidence that the Celtics seemed to be looking for Maxwell: "He was so hot in the third quarter that we just called his number and got the ball to him."
Boston center Robert Parish did not play because of a backache.