BOSTON, NOV. 30 -- In recent seasons, games such as the Washington Bullets had tonight with the Boston Celtics were there for the taking. The Bullets would run Boston hard for three quarters, then watch as Celtics legs wilted in the fourth, when Washington ran by them.
But these new Celtics have young legs. They have a blur of a rookie guard in Dee Brown. And Brown was the catalyst in a dominant 33-13 run during a seven-minute stretch of the third and fourth quarters, leading Boston to a 123-95 rout of Washington before 14,980 at Boston Garden.
Brown scored 10 of his 18 points during the run. Washington (4-10) shot itself in the foot after getting back in the game, with poor shot selection and dismal passing as Boston (12-2) won its eighth in a row.
Larry Bird was eight of 20 from the floor, but he paced eight Celtics in double figures with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Two of those points came in the third quarter, when he became just the fifth player in league history to score 20,000 points with 5,000 assists.
Bernard King got off to a slow start for Washington, missing eight of his first nine from the floor, but rebounded in the second half with 19 of his game-high 22 points.
Harvey Grant scored 21, but hurt his foot late in the third quarter. He played sparingly afterward.
Washington killed itself late in the third, after it had cut a 13-point deficit to five. The Bullets allowed 10 points in the last two-plus minutes of the quarter, and trailed by 86-75 after three.
"We go to our bench, and we get nothing out of it," Bullets Coach Wes Unseld said. "We're just losing every time we go to that."
Ledell Eackles was in the middle of it, turning over the ball twice and hoisting a three-point shot that missed and only led to another Boston basket.
"Potentially he's better than everyone we've got," Unseld said. "But potential isn't worth a horse's petunia until he starts doing something. And right now he's just doing nothing but hurting us. He's not the only one."
Eackles could only shake his head afterward.
King scored eight straight for Washington to begin the fourth, and the Bullets were within 90-81 with 10 1/2 minutes left. They had spent the entire third quarter pushing the ball, forcing tempo. It used to work against Boston.
But the Bullets made just one field goal the next 7:51, during an incredible stretch of mistakes and bad shots. And Boston rolled, going on a 19-3 run that blew the doors off.
"I made a lot of bad decisions," said Bird, who scored the record points on a jumper with 8:21 left in the third. "And I missed a lot of opportunities to score and just put the thing in the hole, which is what we needed to do all along."
Brown started it with a jumper, then quickly -- he does nothing slowly -- stole the ball from Tom Hammonds, starting a fast break. King scored, but Reggie Lewis hit a foul-line jumper for a 96-83 lead.
After a Haywoode Workman free throw, Bird took a three that bounced in. Brown again stole the ball from Hammonds, finding Gamble alone for a transition dunk.
Bird then overplayed Grant for another steal, and Gamble followed his own miss. Just like that, it was 103-84 with 6:27 left.
"My job is to come in and pick up the tempo a little bit," Brown said.
"I got in the game, I got pushing, I got everbody's blood circulating. That's what I'm supposed to do. I've always been known as a driver because people get up on me and I go around them. But if guys play back on me, I shoot the jumper."
Said Grant: "We made two or three turnovers in a row. They capitalized from our turnovers. That was the difference. We made mistakes. We had them there for a minute. We were pushing the ball up the floor. That's the only time we're going to have any success."
Most everyone else was in a tizzy about Bird's accomplishment, which has been done only by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Havlicek, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. He didn't seem thrilled about it all.
"It's not really that big a deal," he said. "You want to get it out of the way and go on with it. I really never thought that much about it. If they paid us by the point, I'd have 50,000 by now."
"The 20,000 points is a tremendous achievement," Boston Coach Chris Ford said, "but it's not only that he is able to score himself, but also that he got the 5,000 assists. . . . He just has a complete game."
Bird did it in his 806th game. Only Bob Pettit and George Gervin reached 20,000 quicker.