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NBA Western Final between Warriors and Hawks Even at 3-3

to win one of those championships. The Masters came first, and I’m awfully excited to have won it again. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that professional grand slam I so much want [Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA], but at least you’ve got to admit I’m alive. I feel I played as well from tee to green here as I’ve ever done.”

“And cigarettes bothered me too,” Palmer continued. “I hadn’t played well since I quit smoking. They had to be making a difference in my game. How much difference? Could I win without smoking? Winning here proved to me that I could.”

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NBA Western Final between Warriors and Hawks Even at 3-3


Apr. 12, 1964 - Barely five minutes of the halftime break had elapsed tonight before the St. Louis Hawks came galloping back onto the Kiel Auditorium court. Coach Harry Gallatin was asked if he had brought his team out that soon intentionally.

“Sure did,” replied Harry. “I didn’t even want to leave the court in the first place! All the time we were in the dressing room. Bob Pettit kept wringing his hands impatiently and saying, ‘Let’s go.’”

And go they did. It was an astonishing first-half 58-33 lead that made them so eager to resume their NBA playoff game with the San Francisco Warriors. The Hawks held that margin in the second half and won, 123-95. The Western Division series is even at 3-3 now, and the final game will be played Thursday in San Francisco. The winner will advance to a best-of-seven series with the Boston Celtics.

Just what had happened in those first two quarters? Mostly it was a matter of what didn’t happen. Wilt Chamberlain didn’t score. Oh, the 7-1 Warrior great had eight points, but that’s almost like being shut out. He averaged 39 a game for the first five games of the series.

But for 24 minutes in this one, Wilt decided to let his overshadowed teammates take a major share in the effort to finish off the Hawks. Chamberlain repeatedly passed the ball to Tom Meschery, Wayne Hightower, or Guy Rodgers and let them shoot. Meschery made two out of 13 tries, Hightower three out of 11, and Rodgers none out of five.

“Wilt gave up the ball to men he saw were in the open,” said coach Alex Hannum afterward, “but the ball wouldn’t drop through the net. Who could blame him? Meschery had a .507 field goal percentage before this game.”

The Hawks, meanwhile, were playing the quick, wide-open game that serves them best against the taller Warriors. They shot at a 50% clip in the first half, and they made up for a rebound deficiency by repeated steals. Frisco had a 43-40 rebound advantage but was only able to get off three more shots.

Hannum felt the Hawks won basically because they had a mental edge.

“The Hawks had their backs to the wall, and they were more fired up than we were,” he said. “I take the blame for that. I didn’t give my club a pep talk because I didn’t think it was necessary. But we didn’t play our best game, and these two teams are so closely balanced that the Hawks ran over us.”

The only thing the Warriors didn’t lose tonight was the fight (pictured) — and they didn’t win that either. It was a draw. Midway through the first quarter, San Francisco’s Wayne Hightower tried to block a layup by Zelmo Beaty and fouled him. The two went to the deck in each other’s grasp, both trying to get in some blows but doing more wrestling than swinging. Chamberlain misjudged the seriousness of the situation and started to go for Beaty. Players and coaches from both teams dashed to the area of battle.

Gallatin reached Chamberlain quickly and told him, “That isn’t your fight, Wilt. Stay out of it.” He did. The Hawks’ Richie Guerin eventually pulled off the wild-eyed Hightower, and the ex-Marine escorted him toward midcourt while pinning his arms from behind. There were no ejections.

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