Larry Bird scored 38 points, 12 in the final 4 1/2 minutes, and the Boston Celtics ended Philadelphia's 13-game winning streak with a 113-97 National Basketball Association victory over the 76ers today.
While improving their home record to 18-1, the Celtics regained the league's best record less than 48 hours after falling behind the 76ers. Boston has a 34-7 record in the Atlantic Division and Philadelphia is 33-7.
The Celtics withstood repeated charges by the 76ers until Bird took charge with Boston in front, 95-88, in the final period.
Bird made two free throws. After two free throws by Philadelphia's Moses Malone (team-high 20 points), Bird hit a 15-foot turnaround shot.
Clemon Johnson of the 76ers and Dennis Johnson of the Celtics made baskets, leaving Boston with a 101-92 lead with 2:55 remaining. Bird made three more field goals, including two three-pointers from the corner. The 76ers scored five points in the final 3:14.
With his 38 points, Bird had nine rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals.
"When they needed hoops, he was there -- shooting or making the pass or doing something," said Philadelphia Coach Billy Cunningham. "You just hope he doesn't completely dominate the game.
"In the three games we've played this season, he has been great (averaging 38 points). He has hit all the baskets that they needed. I don't know if any one person can stop Larry Bird."
Philadelphia's Julius Erving feels that the Celtics' star is becoming more of a shooter. "There's been a shift, they now have more plays designed for him to shoot," Erving said. "He's still Mr. Everything for their team, but now he's taking the shot as the first option instead of the second or third."
The Celtics defeated Philadelphia for the second time in three meetings this season. The 76ers were bidding to equal the club's longest winning streak.
Boston came out of the first quarter, which had 12 lead changes, with a 26-24 lead and went on a 14-2 run for a 44-30 advantage in the second quarter. Bird scored the last six points on two long jumpers and a reverse dunk. The 76ers responded with an 11-2 burst, but were unable to get closer than five points. Boston led by 56-49 at halftime.
With Bird scoring three baskets in a 10-2 run, the Celtics moved ahead, 66-51, in the first 2:20 of the second half but the 76ers closed to 70-67 with 4:53 remaining in the third period. Boston closed the period with a 13-4 burst, four points each coming from guards Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson and forward Kevin McHale, to make it 83-73.