Lakers 89, Celtics 96
There was no Key Moment to this game. Tonight, we're renaming this section the "Key Nine Minutes."
The Boston Celtics battled for three quarters with the Lakers and headed into the fourth quarter with a two-point deficit. The Celtics starters had played relatively limited minutes in the first half, yet Doc Rivers chose to stick with his rotation and start the fourth quarter with four reserves on the court, along with Ray Allen.
That, my friends, was a fantastic coaching decision.
Boston's reserves, well-known for their ability to provide energy off the bench, delivered on their reputation tonight.
With four starters watching from the sideline -- and eventually cheering like crazy from that location -- Glen Davis and Nate Robinson led the way in the biggest run of the game, a 25-12 spurt over the first 8:03 of the quarter that gave the Celtics the biggest lead of the game, at 85-74.
Davis and Robinson combined for 15 points in the quarter on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, but it wasn't just the points that sparked this team to victory -- it was their intensity and desire to win.
Both players made huge plays, from critical buckets to big offensive rebounds to momentum-building steals. After all of those plays, some of which ended with a whistle or timeout, the Garden crowd was sent into a frenzy while watching the players' passionate outbursts.
Most coaches would have eventually thought, "OK, these reserves have kept us in the game and given us a little bit of a lead, let's get the starters back in there as soon as possible to finish this thing out." Not Rivers. He put an inordinate amount of trust in his bench and rode them for more than nine minutes of the fourth quarter in the most important game of the season. Those reserves combined for 21 points in the fourth quarter, and they are the only reason Boston is tied up 2-2 in this series with a great chance to jump ahead when Game 5 arrives Sunday night.
Key Box Score Line
As noted above, Glen Davis was an absolute game-changer tonight. His final stat line reads 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. But that stat line doesn't do justice for the performance he put together in Game 4.
Of Davis' five boards, four of them came at the offensive end, allowing him to finish off easy putbacks that helped keep the C's in the game and eventually take a double-digit lead. His passion for the game and desire to win was unmatched, and there's no doubt that his teammates fed off of him.
He and Robinson led the Celtics to victory tonight, but Davis' game was of the utmost importance. He was unstoppable at times, driving by defenders and finishing at the rim, and there's no doubt that the Lakers will have to go to the drawing board to figure out a way to limit that all-around production in Game 5.
Box Score Nuggets
- Andrew Bynum scored only two points and grabbed three rebounds in 12:10 of playing time.
- Kobe Bryant (seven) and Pau Gasol (four) combined for 11 turnovers.
- The Celtics shot only 3-of-12 from downtown in the win, with no starters making a shot from 3-point range.
- Glen Davis came off the bench to score 18 points and grab five rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting.
- Four of Davis' five boards were offensive.
- Paul Pierce scored a team-high 19 points to go along with a game-high five assists.
- The Celtics grabbed 12 steals, which accounted for 12 of LA's 16 total turnovers.
- Boston had four less turnovers (12) than LA (16), but their turnovers led to more points (16) than the Lakers' did (15).
- Boston's bench scored 36 points, while Los Angeles' scored 18.
- Bryant scored a game-high 33 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the floor, 6-of-11 shooting from downtown and 7-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line.
- Six Celtics finished with at least five rebounds (all of the starters and Davis).
- Boston outrebounded LA 41-34, including 16 offensive boards.
- Ray Allen shot 4-of-7 on 2-pointers and 0-of-4 on 3-pointers.
- The Celtics outscored the Lakers in points in the paint (54-34), fast break points (15-2) and second-chance points (20-10).
- Boston failed to score more than 23 points in any of the first three periods, then exploded for 36 in the fourth.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on his starters cheering on the reserves from the bench during the fourth quarter: "Hell, Rondo and all of them, they were begging me to keep guys in. "Don't take them out! Don't take them out!" It was great. That was the loudest I've seen our bench, and it was our starters cheering from the bench."