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Celtics Take Opener of NBA Finals Against Lakers

Apr. 14, 1963 - The magnificent Celtics exploded in the last 2 minutes tonight and moved one game closer to a fifth straight championship. In the first contest of their NBA finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers, they scored a 117-114 victory at Boston Garden. For a few seconds, it appeared the man most responsible for giving the Celtics the victory, Bill Russell, would become their second major casualty of the game. With the capacity crowd of 13,909 holding its breath, Russell lay unconscious under the defensive basket as Tommy Heinsohn went roaring in with the clinching field goal. Fortunately for the champs, Russell, the demon rebounder and a 25-point scorer tonight, had merely hit his chin on the floor and been knocked out for a short count. However, earlier in the hard-fought battle, rookie John Havlicek may have knocked himself out of the playoffs when he went sailing over the Laker bench and suffered a sprained ankle. Coach Fred Schaus, making an all-out effort to bag this first game, used Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Rudy LaRusso through the entire second half, but the Lakers, getting almost no scoring help except from these three and Dick Barnett, could never quite pull away. Finally, Russell, who played every minute until injured with 26 seconds to go, brought the Celtics even and then came through with a bucket and a free throw to give the Celtics a lead with 1:40 to play. A steal by Heinsohn from West and Tommy’s two subsequent layups wiped out Laker hopes and gave the champions a shot at a two-game lead, with the second contest to be played at Boston Tuesday night.

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