The Boston Celtics evened the series with the Los Angeles Lakers at 2-2 behind a strong performance from their bench in the fourth quarter. The Celtic bench outscored the Lakers by 18 points on the way to a 96-89 victory.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis scored nine of his 18 in the fourth quarter to bring the Celtics back from the brink of elimination. No NBA team has ever won a playoff series after going down 3-1. The Celtics were facing that very possibility, trailing the Lakers going into the fourth quarter.
“Just will, that’s all it is,” Davis said. “This is what legends are made of, this is where you grasp the moment. … Just play in the moment.”
The “Big Three” came out with renewed motivation after losing Game 3. Paul Pierce scored 19, Kevin Garnett added 13, and Ray Allen got hot after failing to hit a single shot Tuesday scoring 12. Now the Celtics are guaranteed a trip back to Los Angeles for Game 6.
Before they return to the Staples Center to face the Lakers, the Celtics will have to take care of business Sunday night in Game 5. They will have to contain Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol if they are to emerge victorious. Bryant scored 33 on 10-22 shooting, and added six rebounds. Gasol added 21 of his own, playing a team-high 44 minutes.
“We know what to do. We know how to play. We know how to get it done,” Gasol said. “And we know how important Game 5 will be, so we’ve just got to get ourselves mentally and physically ready … to accomplish our mission.”
Boston’s three were on the bench for the majority of the fourth quarter, a strategy move they endorsed. Celtic coach Doc Rivers was pleased to see his starters cheering on the reserves.
“I don’t think guys really care and that’s why we’re here, it really is,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “[Rajon] Rondo and the rest of them, they were begging me to keep guys in. ‘Don’t take them out! Don’t take them out!’ It was great. That’s the loudest I’ve seen our bench, and it was the starters cheering from the bench.”
In the post game press conference Bryant said it was just a matter of the Celtics out-hustling the Lakers in the fourth quarter.
“They got all the energy points, the hustle points, second chance points, points in the paint, beat us to the loose balls,” Bryant said. “I mean, that’s how the game turned around.”
NBA Sportsbooks have set the Celtics as the favorites in Game 5 by three points over the Lakers. The Lakers line to win outright is set at +135, and the over/under for total points scored by both teams is 187 1/2 points.