Celtics (12-3) vs. Knicks (7-10)
Saturday, November 17
The Celtics traveled to Madison Square Garden for the the second half of a back-to-back. The Knicks also played the prior night, losing in Houston, 133-130. New York was mired in a five-game losing streak, but dropped each game by no more than four points. They would end the losing streak, defeating a storied division rival in front of a new sellout attendance of 19,591. Outscoring the Celtics in three of the four quarters, the Knicks claimed victory with a 113-109 win.
Future Phil Jackson assistant Jim Cleamons collected a DNP, but the Red Holzman’s team had some recognizable names on the roster. Bill Cartwright had his way in the paint with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Micheal Ray Richardson finished with 22 points and 18 assists, but Ray Williams dominated, ending the night with 35 points in 36 minutes. The Celtics’ Achilles heel — their inability to stop teams in the paint — was apparent in the loss.
The Celtics did well enough on the boards, out-rebounding NY by two, but didn’t distribute the ball nearly as well. Tiny Archibald finished with 8 assist to just 2 turnovers, but Larry Bird had a dismal night with the ball, turning it over 10 times. Bird still finished with a respectable 19/11/5 stat line, but this was a night where he experienced some growing pains as a rookie in the NBA. Chris Ford chipped in 18 points, hitting two more three-pointers, and M.L. Carr was steady off the bench with 19 points in 22 minutes, shooting 8-of-10 from the field. Though Dave Cowens didn’t dominate with his scoring, he did finish with 8 assists. Showing great skill like that, you would think the players would be great at playing poker at Ladbrokes had the internet been invented back then. They still probably had a few friendly games of poker after the match. Bird, Cowens, and Cedric Maxwell — who delivered 15 and 7 — were all plagued by foul trouble, each ending the night with five personals. The game was the first sellout at MSG in almost a year.
The Celtics returned home to the Garden the following Wednesday night to play the New Jersey Nets.