By Tim Povtak, for NBA.com
Posted May 11 2009 7:22AM
ORLANDO -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers met with every player on the team for an exit interview after they won the NBA title last summer, leaving each one with some specific instructions on what he wanted to see when they returned for this season.
His advice for Glen "Big Baby" Davis was a little different than most.
"I told him to go home and work on two things, his jump shot and pushing himself away from the [dinner] table,'' Rivers said.
One out of two worked out just fine.
Davis, who has battled a weight problem since high school, might be the fleshiest looking player in the NBA, but he also is the happiest after hitting the game-winning jump shot as time expired in a thrilling 95-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
His shot, his second go-ahead basket in the final minute of play, allowed the Celtics to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2 and win back the home-court advantage that they lost last week in Boston. He saved the Celtics from an almost insurmountable 3-1 deficit and the likely end of their reign as champions.
Davis might have been the most unlikely of heroes Sunday. He is starting at power forward only because Kevin Garnett is out with a knee injury. He is with the Celtics only because he was so overweight at LSU that he dropped into the second round of the 2007 Draft, coming to Boston as part of the deal with Seattle that brought Ray Allen.
He also was yanked out of Game 4 by Rivers just 47 seconds after it started because he wasn't moving his feet defensively, just one of many embarrassing moments he has had the last two seasons. He also was just the third option on a play that was designed for either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen instead.
"I always envisioned hitting a game-winning shot like this,'' Davis said. "I've been working hard to prepare for it. I've seen it a million times when I'm working out, practicing my shot. And it happened this time.''
When he made the shot, he raced wildly down the sideline celebrating, accidently bumping a young fan who had stepped a little too close to the court. He was so emotional, he was screaming in excitement.
For a moment, it made him forget all the taunts he often hears in opposing arenas, all the criticism he receives, from friend and foe alike. It made him forget the time earlier this season when Garnett berated him so much he started crying on the bench.
"I'm here to play basketball, no matter how big I am,'' Davis said. "If I was smaller or bigger, I'd still play the same way. I hear it all the time. Today, some guy said to me, you're listed at 289 pounds, but you look more like 389. Everyone jokes about it.''
Davis' actual weight is obviously more than what is listed, but it's less than what some believe. Yet as big as he is, he remains surprisingly mobile and athletic. His performance throughout these Playoffs is likely going to earn him a nice contract this summer. As a second-round pick in 2007, he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
He has averaged 16.4 points and six rebounds through 11 playoff games. And the game-winning shot Sunday is going to look pretty good on the resume. He had 21 points and six rebounds.
"If I got smaller, who knows, I might become one of the stars in this league,'' he said. "But as long as people have known me, I've been this big. I believe in sticking with the basics -- bread and butter.''
Davis stole the spotlight from Magic center Dwight Howard, who made two free throws with 49 seconds remaining to give Orlanod a 92-91 advantage, its first lead of the fourth quarter.
Davis came back and hit a 15-foot jumper with 32 ticks remaining. And after Rashard Lewis made two more free throws with 11 seconds left, the Magic again thought they had won the game -- until Big Baby struck, hitting his 21-foot jumper from the corner.
"Big shot Baby Davis,'' Howard said. "I had dreamed about hitting free throws to win a game. But Big Baby stole it from me.''
While Howard seemed amused over Davis becoming the hero for one night, the Celtics seemed to enjoy his moment. They might have tried to carry him off the court, but he is too big for that kind of thing.
"I'm really happy for Big Baby,'' said center Kendrick Perkins. "He has overcome a lot to get to this point. I think he did pretty well this summer, coming back ready to play. And he's proving it now.''
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