There were 12 timeouts taken during the first game of the NBA championship series between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers today. Twelve brief respites for the Lakers to try to find an answer to an all-out assault that ended in a record-setting 148-114 Boston victory.
Now Los Angeles will have almost three days to try to find a solution. Game 2 will be played Thursday at Boston Garden.
Today's 34-point margin of victory by the defending champions was the second greatest in championship play history, one less than the Washington Bullets' 117-82 defeat of the Seattle SuperSonics in 1978. However, the Celtics broke several records, including most total points, most points in a half (79), largest lead at halftime (30 points, 79-49) and field goal accuracy for a game (61 percent).
The loss tied the Los Angeles record for largest margin of defeat in the postseason and was its worst in a championship series game, the previous nadir coming in a 33-pointer against Boston in 1965.
Several Boston players shared in the glory. Guard Danny Ainge scored 15 of his 19 points in the first quarter to help stake Boston to a 38-24 lead. Kevin McHale had 26 points and Larry Bird ended with 19 and nine assists, with some of the baskets and passes approaching the limits of credulity.
Perhaps most amazingly, Boston reserve Scott Wedman made all 11 of his field goal attempts, including four three-point shots en route to scoring 26 points. The Celtics made seven of nine three-point attempts.
"That was the icing," Celtics Coach K.C. Jones said, "that we seemed to hit 200 percent from the field."
Lakers Coach Pat Riley agreed. "I've never seen a team -- except ours at times -- shoot from the perimeter like that. They came out on all cylinders for this first game."
Los Angeles, which was averaging 131 points a game in the playoffs, almost never had a chance today. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's jump shot gave the visitors a 7-6 lead but that disappeared as Boston went on a 20-5 run. From that point, the Lakers would get no closer than nine points, 31-22, after James Worthy (team-high 20 points) made a layup. After his layup, the Celtics went on an 18-3 run.
Boston's brillant shooting display effectively took away from the Lakers' ability to fast-break. Los Angeles was outrebounded, 48-35, mainly because there were not many loose balls to be had.
"We couldn't play our game because we were always pulling the ball out of the net," Abdul-Jabbar said. "The high percentage of shots that they hit put us into a half-court situation."
"What can you say, what can you do?" Lakers guard Magic Johnson said. "When we double-teamed them, they kicked it back out and shot great. When we played them outside, they passed it back in. We were working hard but we weren't going anywhere. Any time that a team is hitting like that, it's tough to make a run."
Many attributed Boston's dominance to the physical superiority of the NBA's Eastern Conference, but Riley dismissed that theory.
"You can hypothesize all you want about East and West, but the Celtics are a great team who had their day today," he said. "There's no solace in saying they won because of this or that. It was just a strong all-round game by Boston."
Boston, however, did play physically, as expected. Ainge, in retaliation for a forearm to the back of his head, was given a technical foul for throwing a basketball at Lakers guard Byron Scott.
After the incident, Scott had to navigate his way around a series of sharp picks and even sharper elbows from McHale.
"I didn't like it, I thought it was a cheap thing Scott did," Ainge said. "There was a lot of that going on, pushing and shoving because they were really frustrated."
Boston's superiority carried over to the final minutes, with the Celtics making 68 percent of their fourth-quarter shots.
"It's not as if we were trying to rub it in or anything," Ainge said. "We just played our game the whole way. Scott was taking three-pointers in the first three quarters. That's just the way the game went, even in the last couple of minutes anything we threw up was going in."
According to Jones, the Lakers will need little stimulation for the second game of the best-of-seven series. "This was a whipping but they'll use it as a motivating point against us for Game 2. They'll come out smoking."