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With Russell Still Ailing, Celtics Fall to Knicks in Providence

Dec. 21, 1963 - The Boston Celtics have finally lost to a team other than the Cincinnati Royals, 66 days after the NBA season began. With Bill Russell nursing a right thigh injury and sitting on the bench, they were defeated tonight, 127-117, by the New York Knicks before 8,762 witnesses at Madison Square Garden. Thursday in Providence, with the same two lineups, the Knicks lost, but by only 143-140. Russell’s absence not only enabled the Knicks, led by big center Bill McGill, to drive with impunity and to get their share of rebounds, but it also allowed them to end a couple of embarrassing losing streaks. Entering this game, the Knicks had lost 9 straight and 14 out of 15. They had dropped 11 in a row to the Celtics since scoring a 120-106 victory at Boston exactly a year ago. Boston, meanwhile, went into the game with a 23-3 record. All three defeats had been inflicted by Cincinnati, with Russell playing. One of tonight’s highlights, and the one that really brought the Knicks to life, came in the last minute of the first half. With 37 seconds to play, the Knicks trailed 57-53. Johnny Green drove for a basket, committed a foul, converted Tom Gola’s pass off the missed free throw into another basket, and stole three Boston pass-ins in a row, feeding Gola and McGill for buckets. The flurry sent the Knicks off the court with a 61-57 lead and high spirits. They came out flying in the second half, withstood the inevitable Celtic counterattack, and held on for the victory. Tonight’s result didn’t hurt Boston any in the standings, however, as second-place Cincinnati dropped a 108-106 game to the Baltimore Bullets. The Celtics will play their last home game until Jan. 10 when they meet the Western Division-leading Lakers Thursday night at Boston Garden.


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