Larry Bird scored 29 points and Kevin McHale had 25 points and 11 rebounds last night, leading the Boston Celtics to a 121-115 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Richfield, Ohio.

Boston has beaten Cleveland 15 straight times. Cleveland had a five-game home winning streak ended despite World B. Free's 24 points.

As a result, Boston will play Cleveland in the first round of the NBA playoffs and Chicago will play Milwaukee.

McHale tipped in a rebound and scored on a goaltending call on Roy Hinson with 2:53 left to give Boston a 114-107 lead. But Cleveland rallied to cut the lead to 116-115 with 55 seconds left on Lonnie Shelton's layup and John Bagley's three-point basket. McHale sealed the victory with a layup with 37 seconds left.

"So much for the rap Cleveland has," said Bird. "We always respected the Cavs, but now we admire them as well. They ran us around in circles. It's not often that happens."

In other games, Ralph Sampson's 10-footer with two seconds remaining in Kansas City gave Houston a 125-123 victory. Sampson and Akeem Olajuwon each scored 31 points for the Rockets. Adrian Dantley scored 23 points in Salt Lake City as Utah won by its biggest margin ever, 145-107, over Portland. In Tacoma, Mark Aguirre scored 30 points in Dallas' 124-80 defeat of Seattle. Los Angeles got its 60th victory of the season, 137-130, over Golden State in Oakland.