In a battle between two familiar combatants, Larry Bird stole the show.

"Larry Bird might not do anything for 3 1/2 quarters, but you know he's always there," said Philadelphia Coach Matt Guokas after his team was defeated, 105-103, by the Boston Celtics in an NBA game yesterday.

Bird finished with a game-high 28 points, 22 in the second half.

He brought Boston back from a large third-quarter deficit. Philadelphia had opened its biggest lead of the game, 74-61, midway through the quarter, but Boston ran off a 21-4 scoring spree to pull in front at the break. Bird nailed three shots from three-point range, including a 40-footer at the buzzer.

With the Celtics behind by 99-98 and less than four minutes to play, Bird scored from the right base line, was fouled and then hit the free throw to provide Boston with a three-point play that moved the Celtics in front for good. Kings 121, Trail Blazers 116

Sacramento rallied behind a season-high 38 points from Eddie Johnson to win at Portland.

The Trail Blazers were outgunned by Johnson and center LaSalle Thompson, who added 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Forward Kiki Vandeweghe led Portland with 29 points, including a perfect 11 points on 11 attempts from the foul line. Guard Jim Paxson added 21 for the Trail Blazers.

Johnson put Sacramento ahead for good at 103-102 with a layin on a shovel pass from guard Larry Drew. Portland tried to catch up but could get no closer than two points.