Celtics even series with Lakers on strength of Davis-led reserves
BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Celtics have tied up the NBA finals, and they owe it more to "Big Baby" than the Big Three.
Backup Glen "Big Baby" Davis scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics bench pulled away from the Los Angeles Lakers to win 96-89 on Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
Game 5 is Sunday 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 finals history.
"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."
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Lakers.
Paul Pierce scored 19, Kevin Garnett had 13 and Ray Allen bounced back from a seven-quarter shooting slump to score 12 points for Boston. But the new Big Three that led the Celtics to their 17th NBA title in 2008 - beating the Lakers in the finals - was on the bench for much of the fourth-quarter run that gave Boston the lead for good.
"They were fine. They were cheering," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of the starters. "I don't think guys really care and that's why we're here, it really is. (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. I thought it was terrific."
Bryant hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Lakers a 62-58 lead with 1:25 left in the third. Davis' putback left the Celtics trailing by two points heading into the final quarter, and he scored on a reverse layup in the opening minute of the fourth to tie it.
Gasol made a basket to give L.A. the lead - its last of the game - before Allen scored, Davis followed, Allen made another basket and Davis followed with a three-point play that made it 71-64 with 8:22 left.
"They got all the energy points, the hustle points, second chance points, points in the paint, beat us to the loose balls," Bryant said. "That's how the game turned around."