Luke Treat

Unlikely Heroes Emerge As Celtics Even Series

In NBA on June 11, 2010 at 2:51 am

BOSTON – The fast-breaking Celtics led by unlikely heroes bruised the Lakers in game four en route to a 96-89 victory. Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis and Nate Robinson combined for 30 points off the bench, helping the Celtics split the series at two games a piece.

More after the jump…

Ray Allen was looking for his shot in game three, and midway through the first half it looked like Robinson had found Allen’s stroke, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers.Robinson and Big Baby would provide the much needed spark the Celtics fans seemed to lack at TD Garden.

Davis, playing more like a pre-adolescent rhino rather than a big baby, in addition to his 18 points he collected six rebounds and two steals. Davis also shot 100% from the free throw line making all four baskets. Big Baby consistently provided solid points in the paint, and during the fourth quarter he had a game face that screamed, my pre-game meal consisted of small children. He looked like a possessed combatant as he celebrated mid-court with the ever feisty Robinson.

The difference in the game would be points in the paint, fast break point opportunities, and hustle that can best be reckless abandonment. Perhaps the Celtics were desperate. Perhaps they were relentlessly and recklessly abandoning their game three funk.

The Lakers scored 34 points in the paint compared to the Celtics 54. Kevin Garnett scored 13 points, with six boards and three assists, but struggled finding his shot most of the game; Kendrick Perkins also chipped in six points and seven rebounds.

Both teams had good looks in fast break opportunities but the home team made the most of their looks scoring 15 points compared the Lakers abysmal two. Rajon Rondo used his quick cuts and superior court vision to advance the ball down court on his way to a 10 point, three assist performance.

Paul Pierce had his most complete game of the series thus far scoring 19 points. But what set him apart in game four were his six boards and five assists. Despite his all around game, Pierce was a ghost in the second half. Pierce hit a jumper, late in the fourth, not connecting since the first quarter.

Rasheed Wallace made most of his game reps by bruising the west coast champs, up and down the floor. Both teams played a hard, physically bruising game that, at times, looked to be more of a bar brawl than a Finals game.

From the top of the Celtics roster to the bottom, it was clear the Celtics were determined to out work, out hustle, and out exhaust the Lakers. Celtics coach Doc Rivers used his reserves liberally in the fourth, giving his starting five rest on the bench. With the Celtics bench outscoring the Lakers bench respectively, the Lakers kept in their starters trying to close the gap. Phil Jackson over-exhausted his star players and the result was a team that couldn’t figure out how to shut down Big Baby, Robinson, and company.

Kobe Bryant was more conservative in his shot selection, improving from 30% in game three to 45% in game four. His 33 point, six rebound performance wasn’t enough to beat the scrappy Boston ball club. The quiet assassin, Derek Fisher, couldn’t repeat his clutch shooting, being held to six points. Pau Gasol was second on the team in scoring with 21 points. Lamar Odom was effective in spurts, but foul trouble kept him from competing with the firepower of the Celtics reserves.

Officiating in game four looked more like a NBA contest rather an SEC football game without the many game-stalling reviews of the previous game. Rivers has been spewing off to the refs and the media alike all series about the poor calls and tonight was no different as he even went to mid-court to preach his sermon to the referees.

Game five will continue in Boston and emotions will surely be running high as they were in game four. These rivals, (even though Kobe said the rivalry has no personal sentiment), have decades of dismay and this series is burying salt underneath the open wound.


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