's Eastern leaders, after surviving a player-fan fight in
, moved a full step ahead of the Western Division. The Nats, hopeful after beating the Celtics 115-98 at Syracuse, soon discovered that Boston was as tough as ever. The Celtics won the next two 133-110 and 120-107 and, with the Eastern title in sight, went all out in the fifth game at Boston. The pesky Nats managed to stay close for a while—in spite of Big Bill Russell's magnificent shot-blocking and rebounding (he got 33). But oldtimers Bill Sharman and Frank Ramsey let loose with a last-quarter burst of points, and Syracuse succumbed 123-101 to give Boston the series, 4 games to 1, and a spot in the final playoff.
In the West, first-place
were all tied up after four games. The Lakers won the first, 122-118, as Elgin Baylor scored 44 points. In the second game St. Louis fans were at their raucous worst. Stirred up by a bitter exchange between Owner Ben Kerner and Referee Sid Borgia, they doused Laker Jim Krebs with beer, and he retaliated with his fists. When the rioting was stopped the Hawk front line ( Bob Pettit, Clyde Lovellette and Cliff Hagan) did some pouring of its own, drowned the Lakers with 66 points, and St. Louis won 121-106. The two teams then moved on to Los Angeles, where the Lakers won 118-112. But Saturday night the Hawks pulled themselves together behind Pettit's 40 points, won 118-117 to even the series at 2-2 when Si Green and rookie Len Wilkens scored five points in the last minute.
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