Larry Bird's three-game stint in Texas provided ample proof...

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Larry Bird's three-game stint in Texas provided ample proof that he is the best player in the NBA.

In a little under three quarters Thursday night, Bird scored 33 points on 12 of 13 shooting from the field to lift the Boston Celtics to a 135-119 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.


Thursday's performance culminated Bird's romp through the lone star state. In a Monday loss to Dallas he scored 50 points and in a Tuesday victory over Houston he hit for 31.

Bird scored 31 first-half points, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range. He fell 1 point shy of the Celtics' record for points in a half, a mark shared by Ed Macauley, 1953, and Bill Sharman, 1957.

'Records really don't mean much to me,' Bird said. 'I know we scored a lot of points in the first half, but we really didn't play much defense. I started out good tonight by getting some easy baskets, and that really helped.'

Boston coach Casey Jones said he had mixed feelings about the game.

'We shot 80 percent in the first half, but we also had 16 turnovers,' he said. 'That's not a good combination because we only had a 10-point halftime lead.


Boston guard Dennis Johnson said the Celtics' shooting was the key. Boston hit 32 of 40 from the field in the first two periods.

'When we shoot like we did tonight, we are pretty hard to beat,' Johnson said. 'Larry was great in the first half andeveryone else shot well too.' The Spurs played without center Artis Gilmore, power forward Steve Johnson, guard Johnny Moore and guard-forward Tyrone Corbin all benched with injuries

Fitzsimmons said some of the remaining Spurs weren't in much better shape.

'Mitch (Mike Mitchell) deserves some recognition,' he said. 'He's playing with a lot of pain.'

Mitchell, who has painful knees, led San Antonio with 30 points.

'It's tough inside without our big people,' San Antonio's David Greenwood said. 'Boston is tough enough anyway -- and when you're short handed, it makes it extremely difficult.'

Mitchell, who guarded Bird, said the task was next to impossible.

'Bird can do anything on the floor,' Mitchell said. 'He has range past the 3-point line, and that makes it tough. They are definitely the best team we've played all year.'

Boston raised its record to 52-13, best in the NBA.

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