Person's performance that night was an uncanny display of nervy pressure shooting, even if the primary defensive victim was Bird, who these days would have trouble covering a book in the open floor. Person's last three-pointer, with 2:06 to go, was the backbrcaker. With the score tied 109-109, Bird had tried to slip an entry pass down low to McHale, but Person—whom the Celtics consider not merely a bad defender but a horrible one—stepped in front of McHale and made the steal. He dribbled up the right wing with only one thought in mind and pulled up and let fly from the three-point line. "I shot it as high as I could," said Person, "so everyone could admire it."
The ball went in and for one brief and shining moment, Chuck Connors Person (that's his real name) was the best darned jump shooter on the planet. Afterward, in the Pacer locker room, he was predictably Chuck-full of comments. A sampling:
•"Larry knew I was in his ear, and now I'm going to be in his dreams."
•"I knew when Larry and McHale got on me, the shots were going in. It's like I was out there for target practice, shooting H-O-R-S-E by myself."
•"Unless they come up with something different, we're going to go tear some of that parquet up in Boston."
Well, Chuck, what they came up with—a vintage performance by Bird—was not original. It was enough, though. Number 33 is battered and bruised, but right now he's still the best thing the Celtics have going for them, and his presence alone gives Boston a chance against the Pistons. Maybe just a ghost of a chance, but a chance nevertheless.