For the first time in his career, Charles Barkley walked off the Boston Garden parquet a winner. And for the first time in quite a while, the Celtics walked off amid a smattering of boos.
The Philadelphia 76ers, trailing by 30 points in the second half, rallied behind Barkley and Maurice Cheeks to stun Boston, 97-93, and take sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
'Even if we had lost, it didn't matter; I was just proud to be a Sixer tonight,' said Barkley, who had 22 of his 29 points in the second half. 'I'm glad that whole tribe of monkeys is off my back.'
The unlikely victory highlighted three upsets in the NBA, as both the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons lost on buzzer shots.
Michael Adams' 12-foot pullup jumper gave the Denver Nuggets a 120-119 victory over the Lakers at the Forum. And Ed Nealy's hook shot with no time left handed the Spurs a 107-106 triumph over the Pistons at the HemisFair Arena in San Antonio.
Philadelphia, a half-game ahead of New York and Washington in the East, ended a 14-game losing streak on the Celtics' floor, winning for the first time at the Garden since Feb. 12, 1984.
Boston led 75-45 with 7:30 left in the third quarter and 84-67 with 12 minutes to play, but managed just 9 points in the final period - hitting just 3 of 20 shots -- and was blanked over the final 4:36.
Philadelphia hit 12 of its 17 shots in the fourth quarter and scored the game's final 12 points.
Cheeks, who finished with 20 points, tied it 93-93 with 35 seconds left. After Boston's Larry Bird missed with 15 seconds to play, Cheeks connected from the top of the key with nine seconds remaining, putting the 76ers ahead for the first time.
With three seconds left, Bird missed again -- he wound up sinking just 8 of 29 shots -- and Philadelphia's Gerald Henderson converted 2 foul shots with one second left.
'We were pretty invincible in the first half and pretty much died in the second,' Boston guard Danny Ainge said. 'It's ridiculous and never should have happened.
'It's pretty embarrassing to come off the court and get booed by your home crowd. But we deserved it; it was just a pitiful effort.'
Detroit, battling Boston for the best record in the East, had a chance to move a game ahead of the Celtics in the loss column, but Jon Sundvold scored a career-high 25 points, then passed to Nealy for the game-winner.
Isiah Thomas, who had 34 points, had given Detroit a 106-105 lead with a jumper with four seconds left.
At Inglewood, Calif., Denver trailed by 7 points with 79 seconds to play but tied it 118-118 when Bill Hanzlik stole the ball from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and scored off Jay Vincent's miss with 25 seconds left.
Abdul-Jabbar sank a foul shot with four seconds remaining for a 119-118 lead, but Adams took an inbounds pass, drove to his right and pulled up for his jumper over Wes Matthews.
'I knew before the last play we were going to win,' Nuggets Coach Doug Moe said. 'I told Jack Nicholson before the play, 'It's over. We're going to win. The little guy's going to score.''
Elsewhere, Dallas downed Portland 106-101, Indiana nipped New Jersey 101-100, Chicago edged Cleveland 111-110 in overtime and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Golden State 113-98. Mavericks 106, Trail Blazers 101 At Dallas, Roy Tarpley, who sat out the second period because of foul trouble, collected 25 points and 13 rebounds to help the Mavericks take a three-game lead over Portland in the battle for second place in the Western Conference. Pacers 101, Nets 100 At Indianapolis, 7-footer Steve Stipanovich sank a desperation 3-point shot with two seconds remaining to deal New Jersey its 31st loss in 34 road games. The Indiana center has just two long-range baskets in 12 attempts this season -- and both have produced victories in the closing seconds. Bulls 111, Cavaliers 110 At Richfield, Ohio, Charles Oakley converted Michael Jordan's missed shot with one second left in overtime for Chicago. Jordan had 39 points -- 35 in the first three quarters -- and Oakley added 22 and 19 rebounds. Clippers 113, Warriors 98 At Los Angeles, Larry Drew scored 7 of his 13 points during a 18-2 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters as the Clippers won for just the 14th time in 66 games this season. The Warriors scored just 12 points in the fourth quarter.