Bullets fall to Celtics, 123-95 Bird reaches another milestone in career

December 01, 1990|By Jack Burke | Jack Burke,Special to The Sun

BOSTON -- Washington Bullets coach Wes Unseld sent a message to general manager John Nash regarding the dismal bench after last night's 123-95 loss to the Boston Celtics at the Boston Garden.

Washington led after one quarter, 22-18, on the strength of its starters but fell behind for good in the second quarter when Unseld was forced to go to his bench.

"We had to go to the bench and we got nothing out of it," Unseld said. "We're just losing every time we do it. We've got to find a way to stop it. There's got to be a way."

Ledell Eackles, playing his third game after resolving his contract squabble, led the Bullets' bench with seven points in 22 minutes. Shouts of "move, move" were directed at Eackles by Unseld from the bench, but it seemed that the out-of-condition guard was incapable of it.

"Potentially, he's better than anything we've got. But potentially just ain't working," Unseld said.

Nor was Bernard King in the first half. The league's leading scorer, despite finishing with a game-high 22 points, hit one of nine field-goal attempts in the first half before coming on in the fourth quarter. King, who was held to 11 points on 4-for-21 shooting on Nov. 17 (a 102-90 Boston win) at the Capital Centre, ignored the media and left shortly after the game.

"I thought Bernard needed to pick it up a bit," said Unseld. "He was really struggling in the first half."

Boston's Larry Bird also struggled in the first half by connecting on three of 10 field-goal attempts. He more than made up for it in the second half, pouring in 13 of his team-high 21 points as the Celtics blew the game open.

With 8 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Boston legend became the fifth member in the 20,000-point, 5,000-assist club by hitting a jumper from the foul line over Haywoode Workman.

Bird, who went over the 5,000-assist mark two weeks ago, needed 12 points to join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Havlicek, Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. He acknowledged a five-minute standing ovation and kiddingly threatened to throw the milestone ball into the stands after it was presented to him by referee Jake O'Donnell.

"I was going to throw it, but I found out the Hall of Fame wanted it," said Bird. "If not, it was going to be in the top deck."

The Bullets, however, remained at the bottom of the Atlantic Division deck with a 4-10 record (1-7 on the road), and Boston won its eighth straight to stay on top. The Celtics (12-2) are off to their best start in five years and are 28-6 in their past 34 regular-season games.

The Bullets played their best ball of the evening in the first quarter by dominating the Celtics, who hit one of their first 10 field-goal attempts. Darrell Walker scored seven of his 12 points in the first eight minutes and Workman contributed six of his 13 in the first quarter, as the Bullets took a 22-18 lead.

It all started falling apart for the Bullets in the second quarter when Unseld had no choice but to go to his bench.

Led by Kevin McHale and Dee Brown, the Boston fast break came alive at the start of the second quarter with a 14-4 run, and Boston never trailed again.

"Fortunately, we were able to water them down with some people off our bench," said Boston coach Chris Ford.

Former Dunbar High School standout Reggie Lewis had 10 points with four rebounds for the Celtics. The third-year swingman, who has been averaging 19.8 points, said he was happy to be on the floor when Bird hit the milestone.

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