BOSTON — The Celtics have tied up the NBA Finals, and they owe it more to "Big Baby" than the Big Three.
Backup forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Celtics' bench as it pulled away from the Lakers to win 96-89 in Game 4 on Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
"We just knew we had to bring our energy. That's the main thing for us," Boston guard Nate Robinson, who had 12 points, said of his fellow reserves. "The more energy we bring, the better offensively we are and the better defensively we are."
Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston. The Celtics' win guaranteed them a trip back to Los Angeles and averted a 3-1 deficit that has never been overcome in NBA history.
"This is where you grab the moment," said Davis, who shot 7-of-10 from the field in the game. "This is what legends are made of.
"I'm proud of our guys. We played great."
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Lakers.
Paul Pierce scored 19 points, Kevin Garnett had 13 and Ray Allen bounced back from a seven-quarter shooting slump to score 12 for Boston.
Battling a painful right knee, Lakers starting center Andrew Bynum was limited to about 13 minutes. Bynum was on the floor for less than two minutes in the second half, and the Lakers sorely missed his size and strength. The Celtics had a whopping 54-34 advantage in points in the paint and a 20-10 edge in second-chance points, and they outrebounded Los Angeles 41-34.
Bynum has a torn meniscus, and the knee quickly refilled with fluid after he had it drained last week.
For Boston, Allen made his first shot of the game, then kept missing like it was Game 3 all over again.
Until the fourth quarter.
With the Lakers leading 64-62, Allen tied the score when he drove the baseline from the right side and made a reverse layup with 10:31 left. Then, after Davis hit a layup, Allen connected from the free-throw line for a 68-64 lead.
It was 71-66 when he passed the ball to Tony Allen for a layup that put the Celtics up by seven with 7:46 remaining.
Ray Allen, the shooting guard who set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers in Game 2, then had the worst shooting game of his career by missing all 13 shots in Los Angeles' 91-84 win in Game 3, was contributing again.
But not until a long dry spell for much of the game.
Ray Allen made a layup for Boston's first basket exactly one minute into the game. Then he missed his other five shots in the half as the Lakers led 45-42 at halftime.
He didn't score again until making a 20-footer with 4:24 to play in the third quarter and ended the period having missed six of his eight shots for the game.
But in the fourth quarter, he went 2-for-3, ending his night on a high note. For the game, he was 4-for-11 with five rebounds, one assist and a steal.
|Series tied 2-2|
L.A. LAKERS (89): Artest 4-10 1-1 9, Gasol 6-13 9-10 21, Bynum 1-2 0-0 2, Fisher 3-6 0-1 6, Bryant 10-22 7-8 33, Odom 5-10 0-1 10, Vujacic 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 2-5 1-1 5, Farmar 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 32-71 18-22 89.
BOSTON (96): Pierce 7-12 5-7 19, Garnett 5-13 3-3 13, Perkins 3-5 0-0 6, Rondo 5-15 0-2 10, R.Allen 4-11 4-4 12, Davis 7-10 4-4 18, Wallace 1-5 0-0 3, T.Allen 1-4 1-1 3, Robinson 4-8 2-2 12, Daniels 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-83 19-23 96.
L.A. Lakers 16 29 17 27— 89
Boston 19 23 18 36— 96
3-Point Goals—L.A. Lakers 7-20 (Bryant 6-11, Farmar 1-2, Odom 0-1, Artest 0-1, Gasol 0-1, Brown 0-1, Vujacic 0-1, Fisher 0-2), Boston 3-12 (Robinson 2-4, Wallace 1-1, T.Allen 0-1, Rondo 0-1, Pierce 0-1, R.Allen 0-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—L.A. Lakers 42 (Artest, Odom 7), Boston 51 (Perkins 7). Assists—L.A. Lakers 13 (Artest, Gasol 3), Boston 15 (Pierce 5). Total Fouls—L.A. Lakers 23, Boston 21. Technicals—Robinson, Wallace. A—18,624 (18,624).
Nets: President-general manager Rod Thorn said the team had reached an agreement in principle with former Mavericks coach and current ESPN analyst Avery Johnson to be its coach. Thorn refused to disclose details of the multiyear contract. He said it should be signed in "a reasonable period."
Wizards: Ted Leonsis completed his purchase of the team from the estate of the late Abe Pollin. The former AOL executive and his partners paid about $310 million to buy the team, the Verizon Center and other assets. They had previously owned 44 percent of the team and the arena, as well as 100 percent of the Capitals and WNBA Mystics.
Leonsis hinted that he might change the Wizards' colors from silver and blue to the Capitals' red, white and blue. He also opened an e-mail address for Wizards fans to contact him. By Thursday morning he had received 130 e-mails, including several from a fan upset with the quality of the ketchup at the Verizon Center.