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Dietrick had the most accurate description of what was happening: "Both teams trying to psych out two refs who are walking around blank, trying to figure how to get out of the building."
The Spurs cut Boston's 13-point lead to four late in the game by pressing the Scott-less Celtic backcourt. But White kept hiding behind screens and popping one or another of San Antonio's pitiful defenders. He ended up with 38 points and, as Cowens said, "made me look good in the assist column."
"Other teams we run," said Special K in a postmortem. "The Celtics run us. Did Jo Jo miss? I didn't see the man miss."
White didn't do too much missing in Philadelphia on Sunday, either, but he saved his best for last. In the first half the 76ers fought around the Boston picks, switched well and stymied the Celtic backcourt. Philly's Henry Bibby, the team's most consistent player all season, played masterful defense on White while Doug Collins scored 19 points as the 76ers took a 67-59 lead.
But the Sixers' fast break came to a halt in the final period, the home team going for more than seven minutes without a bucket. By that time White and Scott were back on target (they combined for 43 points) and Boston briefly went into the lead.
With 31 seconds to go and the score tied at 109, White hit a long jumper from behind a wall of screening Celtics. Boston got the ball back when Philadelphia missed two shots. But with 15 seconds remaining, Havlicek threw an in-bounds pass across the court and practically to New Jersey, and when Erving whirled underneath for the tying hoop (111-111) and was fouled, it looked like the 76ers' game again. But Doctor J missed his first free throw. Then he missed his second. There were six seconds left and the Celtics had one chance to win.
Make that three chances. White fired from the right. Off the rim. Wicks, who contributed 21 points and 13 rebounds, threw up a prayer, but Erving came out of the rafters to swat the ball away. "I thought we were going to overtime," said the Doctor.
Instead, White was going downtown. Having crossed all alone into the corner, Jo Jo came up with the loose ball and shot the winning 12-footer.
"That's just the business," said Erving. "You have a great day and still come up empty."
Dancing Davey Cowens was asked if he would be driving a cab away from the Spectrum. "I only got a license for one state," he said. But as this savage series raged on, both teams realized that the Boston Celtics were, indeed, in the driver's seat.