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Celtics Dominate Warriors, Take 2-0 Lead in NBA Finals

Apr. 20, 1964 - With a two-way exhibition seldom rivaled at Boston Garden, the Celtics destroyed the San Francisco Warriors, 124-101, in a game punctuated by fisticuffs before 13,909. The Celtics led by as many as 35 points at times and used reserves almost exclusively in the final quarter. With the victory, the Celtics took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA finals series.

Wilt Chamberlain threw a wicked punch that floored Clyde Lovellette early in the final period, and Lovellette discreetly stayed where he had fallen, thus preventing a possible free-for-all. Blood streamed from the big Boston center’s nose.

The Chamberlain-Lovellette fracas occurred less than three minutes into the final period. Two officials plus police and players from both teams broke up the exchange quickly. The Celtic coach, Red Auerbach, was dragged from the floor by one of his stars, Bill Russell, at the height of the dispute. Neither Chamberlain nor Lovellette were ejected, but Lovellette was charged with a technical foul.

Official Mendy Rudolph later explained: “Lovellette was the instigator. He fouled Chamberlain first with an elbow, then he added a little shove. They had words, and you saw what the big fellow [Chamberlain] did — he decked him.”

Chamberlain wouldn’t discuss the incident. “We just had an incident, that’s all,” said Wilt. Informed that Lovellette had given his side of the incident, Chamberlain said: “Then let him tell you what happened. He should know. I don’t want to say any more about it.”

“Why don’t you hit Bill Russell?” Chamberlain was asked. “They both push, don’t they?”

“Yes, they both push,” said Wilt. “They get away with it too. This Lovellette is a ‘hand pusher’ and sneaky. Sure, Bill pushes too. But I just don’t like Lovellette, and I never did. I like Russell.”

“It hurt all right,” said Lovellette in the Boston dressing room. “But I won’t stop playing the man the way I did. I simply pushed him with my elbows. That’s been going on for some time. He said something, and I protested, and the next thing I knew he was swinging. I may get creamed next time — he sure is a strong man. But I’m going to play him that way every chance I get.”

K.C. Jones steered the Boston offense in the tradition of Bob Cousy. Sam Jones dropped in 12 of 18 from the floor after recovering from a groin injury and totaled 31 points in setting the scoring tempo.

Alex Hannum, San Francisco coach, said: “The Celtics were great, I’ve never seen them better. They did everything right for three periods. There is no argument.”

The capacity throng was enchanted by the performances of such as Satch Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, and Bill Russell, outstanding as always.

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