HARTFORD, Conn. -- This was supposed to be a pleasurable night for Michael Adams. But his homecoming turned painful with seven seconds left in the first half last night.
Adams, playing in front of dozens of family and friends at the Hartford Civic Center, dislocated the middle finger of his left hand and had to have it reset after he fell while making a layup with seven seconds left in the first half.
It hurt him, and the Washington Bullets felt it even more.
The Bullets made a late run, but couldn't get over the hump without Adams' leadership and quickness, and dropped a 121-108 decision to the Boston Celtics.
Reggie Lewis led the Celtics with 37 points on 17-of-24 shooting, Larry Bird had 18 and Robert Parish 16. Pervis Ellison led the Bullets with 31 and Adams had 10.
"It was a little scary," Adams said. "Just looking at [the finger] made me go into shock. I was thinking of Joe Theismann's leg. But those things happen.
"I'm having a good year, so it's a little disappointing. You want to keep it going."
Adams was given local anesthesia by Celtics trainer Arnie Schellier to put the finger back in. He will have it X-rayed today. The Bullets will decide how much time he will miss then.
The Bullets missed Adams' quickness in their pressure defense, which the Celtics picked apart at key junctures. They also missed his outside shooting, which failed them in the final minutes after they had cut the Celtics' lead to 113-107 with 3 minutes, 1 second left in the game.
Washington (5-9) had two chances to cut the lead to five, but missed both and Bird's three-pointer with 1:30 left sealed the Celtics' victory.
"We didn't get to play the pace we really wanted," Bullets coach Wes Unseld said. "They got open shots and they were hitting. We were hanging close, but we never got control."
Mostly because of Lewis. With Bird struggling, the fifth-year man took control with his outside shot and quick moves to the basket.
"Larry got off to a bad start and the pressure was on me to step up in the first half," Lewis said. "Parish and Bird are superstars, they always are going to come through at the end."
The Bullets failed to carry over the emotion of Saturday night's 73-point second half against Atlanta in the first quarter against the Celtics. A slow shooting start, augmented by turnovers and an overplaying Celtics defense, put Washington in a hole.
Washington's defense stopped Bird and contained Parish, but Lewis' hot hand helped the Celtics to a 29-21 first-quarter lead. Lewis had 12 points in the quarter as the Celtics finished with a 12-5 run, the final five coming from Rickey Green, whose three-pointer barely beat the buzzer.
"Reggie was really on tonight," Washington's David Wingate said. "I can really see the difference in his game because I've known him since high school. He's one of the premiere two guards right now."
The Celtics increased the lead early in the second quarter, as Bird (2 of 11, first half) finally hit his first field goal with 9:51 left in the half and followed with another, giving Boston the lead, 37-25. Lewis continued his hot streak with four more baskets, including a dunk off a steal to give the Celtics their biggest lead of the half, 55-39, with 3:40 left.
Ellison kept the Bullets alive late in the second quarter, scoring 11 of his 16 first-half points in the final four minutes. Andre Turner, Adams' replacement, hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to cut the Boston lead to 65-54 at the half.
But without Adams, the Bullets couldn't make the big plays. His injury may add to their Bullets' 50 man-games lost to injury. "I was thinking somebody hates me" when Adams went down, Unseld said. "But I've ben thinking that since October."