For most of the first three quarters last night, game four of the NBA Finals looked like the first three games – ugly and painful to watch. There were more head-scratching calls, but by the end of the game, the officials weren’t the story of this one, either to the relief or chagrin of David Stern and the rest of the NBA higher-ups.
The story turned out to be the play of the Celtics bench in the fourth quarter – Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace, along with starter Ray Allen played much of the period, against the Lakers starters, and put this one away. Davis (18 pts) was a bowling ball under the boards, Robinson (12 pts) made some big shots, Tony Allen played the best defense on Kobe Bryant of anyone in this series, and Wallace played tough on Gasol. The result was a 96-89 Celtics win to even the series at 2-2.
If anyone had any remaining doubts that Mike Breen is an unabashed Kobe lover and Celtics hater, they should’ve been put to rest last night. Just search Twitter for the hashtag #breenloveskobe .
Julian Benbow has Doc Rivers needing to look the other way on his usual rule against fourth quarter technical fouls because of the emotion and energy the bench was playing with. Mark Murphy has the reserves taking this one from the Lakers. Lisa Dillman and John Cherwa have the Celtics making this series a best of three. Kevin McNamara has the Celtics getting a badly needed fourth quarter offensive punch from an unlikely source. Bill Doyle has an odd lineup evening up the NBA Finals for the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics showing their bench strength.
Dan Shaughnessy has the bench leading the way in his Globe front page story. Ron Borges has the Celtics reserves making “clear that this series is going to be decided by will and perspiration more than skill and inspiration.” Jim Fenton has the bench going above and beyond their assignment. John Hollinger says that the Celtics went ugly for this one. Peter F. Stringer notes that without whistles at every turn, the Celtics were able to outmuscle the Lakers.
Jessica Camerato has the bench turning around the game, and perhaps the series and season for Boston. Bob Hohler has the bench seizing the moment together as a group, despite the prevailing opinion that the Celtics needed the big three to all step up in this one. Michael Muldoon has the Flotsam Four getting the win for the Celtics. Scott Souza has the bench pulling out this must-win for the Celtics. Rich Levine has the wild card paying off for Boston.
Bob Ryan has a look at the entire package that is Glen Davis, calling him the “XXXXX-factor” of this series. Steve Buckley has more on the man-child that is Davis. Tim Weisberg has Davis knocking back prevailing opinion with his performance. Jeff Jacobs says that Davis wanted this one even more than Kobe. Chris Forsberg has Davis’ energy charging up the entire team, and building. Marc D’Amico has more on the dynamic duo of Davis and Robinson.
Steve Bulpett notes that the only thing pretty about this one was the final score. Paul Flannery says that this one might’ve been Doc Rivers’ gutsiest coaching job. Bill Reynolds insists that this series is still going to come down to The Big Three. Paul Jarvey says that once again, this game came down to rebounding. Kirk Minihane offers up ten thoughts from this one.
Peter May has Paul Pierce coming through as a starter and closer for the Celtics last night. Nate Taylor also has Pierce getting things going early and late for the Celtics. Dan Duggan looks at the Celtics stars coming in to finish off what the bench started in the fourth. Shaughnessy has a look at the iron routine that Ray Allen goes through in order to keep his shooting sharp. Frank Dell’Apa has Allen contributing despite another poor shooting night. (4-11) Taylor has Nate Robinson finally getting a chance to shine.
Buckley explores the origins and deeper meanings of the ‘Beat LA’ chant. No, really. And did you know that the Beat LA towels handed out at the Garden were made in CA by a company owned by a Laker fan. Also, Bulpett has TD Garden PA man Eddie Palladino battling badly swollen vocal cords.
Jessica Heslam has Glenn Ordway endorsing Kevin McHale as the next Celtics coach should Doc Rivers step down.
Monique Walker has Andrew Bynum unable to contribute for the Lakers last night because of his knee injury. Robert Mays has Pau Gasol becoming the Lakers sole factor in the paint with Bynum hurting. J.A. Adande has Bynum’s injury really hurting the Lakers. Mays also has a look at the relationship between Kobe and Derek Fisher. McNamara has former Rhode Island star Lamar Odom enjoying his time in LA.
Washburn’s Courtside chatter looks at the dubious selections to officiate last night’s game, and a couple other items.
Benbow’s notebook has Rasheed Wallace joining Kendrick Perkins in the “One T away” club. Murphy’s notebook has more on Wallace’s situation and his back. McNamara’s notebook has Bynum’s knee flaring up again on him. Walker’s Lakers notebook has late turnovers doing in the Lakers again. Bill Doyle’s notebook has LA radio personality Vic Jacobs adding a dimension of LA weird to the series. Fenton’s notebook has Pierce getting his offensive game going a bit last night. Souza’s notebook has both teams battling through fatigue and injuries. Blakely’s notebook has more on Pierce’s game last night.