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Celtics in worst slump

The Boston Celtics are playing like a team without a memory of glories past. The once-mighty franchise with a record 16 NBA championships is in its worst slump ever.

On Friday night the Celtics lost a club-record 11th straight game, falling to the Seattle SuperSonics 115-102.

The Sonics are considered one of the NBA's top contenders. Still, they were coming off a 1-4 road trip in which they blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

The Sonics can be beaten. The Celtics didn't come close, falling behind by 18 points at the end of the first quarter. They played catchup the rest of the night.

Robert Parish, the oldest player in the league at 40, is the last link to the Celtics' wonderful past. It includes three NBA titles during Larry Bird's 13 seasons in Boston.

The 1994 Celtics are a bad act. The starting five of Parish, Rick Fox, Dino Radja, Dee Brown and Sherman Douglas aren't going to beat many teams. The bench of Jimmy Oliver, Acie Earl, Alaa Abdelnaby, Xavier McDaniel, Ed Pinckney and Kevin Gamble offers little depth.

The Celtics just don't have the players. The 102 points against the Sonics was the first time Boston has broken the 100-mark during their 0-for-February run.

"We broke 100 points," Boston coach Chris Ford said sarcastically. "That's something."

The Celtics have their final chance to avert the franchise's first winless month when they end a six-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers today.

"The Lakers are a team we match up well with," Ford said, searching for something optimistic to say.

Boston knows it will win again. There are a lot of bad teams in the NBA. Expansion has caused that. The league's talent has been diluted dramatically. That expansion will make it tougher for the Celtics to grow strong again because there are more teams drafting college players now.

But the Celtics haven't quit on themselves. McDaniel was the X-Man and an All-Star when he was in Seattle in the 1980s. He got 21 points, mostly on desire, in 26 minutes against his old team.

"They were fighting and scratching, trying to get out of that losing streak," Seattle's Sean Kemp said.

At 20-34, the Celtics likely will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1979, which was also their last losing season.

_ TIMES WIRES

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