Larry Bird scored 24 of his game-high 33 points in the first half as the Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 123-97, last night at Boston Garden.

With the victory, the Celtics, who lost, 119-115, in double overtime to Philadelphia earlier this season, moved into a tie with the 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division. Both are 17-4.

Bird and Robert Parish dominated the scoring and rebounding for the Celtics. Parish, slowed by a sore ankle, scored 18 points and had 14 rebounds, as did Bird.

Leading, 44-43, five minutes into the second period, Boston outscored the 76ers, 20-4, in 4 1/2 minutes. Bird made nine of 14 shots in the half and had eight rebounds; Parish had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics shot 54 percent and outrebounded Philadelphia, 32-16, in the half.

Julius Erving, who led Philadelphia with 22 points, said, "We're going to have to make some adjustments before we play them again. It was a case of us giving them a lot of second shots, Bird's hot hand and our turning the ball over in the lane."

In the third period, Boston guard Nate Archibald got his 6,000th NBA assist in the quarter on a basket by Kevin McHale.