|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2010||[Print without images]|
BOSTON -- Celtics forward Glen Davis stood barking at midcourt, spewing drool in every direction like some sort of rabid dog -- or maybe the teething version of his popular monicker -- and whipping the crowd into a frenzy after initiating an and-1 sequence with a putback that gave the Celtics a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Guard Nate Robinson came running from behind Davis and vaulted onto his back as Big Baby flexed toward the crowd.
"You were on my back?" Davis asked Robinson as they sat next to each other at their joint postgame news conference.
"You didn't even notice," replied Robinson. "We're like Shrek and Donkey. You can't separate us."
|Glen Davis' boundless energy led to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting -- and a 2-2 series tie.|
Davis smiled broadly and added, "You shouldn't have let us two get up here."
It was an improbable postgame scene after an improbable in-game scene. In the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Finals -- what Boston players later acknowledged was an absolute must-win -- there were Davis and Robinson, flanked by fellow reserves Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen, with Ray Allen the only starter on the floor.
Davis scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting over 22:29, while Robinson chipped in 12 points over 16:50 as Boston's junior varsity lifted the Celtics to a 96-89 triumph over the Lakers to even the series at two games apiece.
Davis might not remember having Robinson on his back, because, at that moment, he had the entire Celtics team on his shoulders. Davis scored half of his points in the fourth quarter, his play one of the main reasons coach Doc Rivers leaned on the bench-heavy lineup for more than nine minutes in the period.
After the putback that had his team on top 70-64, an official's timeout set into motion a scene that nearly reduced the Garden to rubble -- and might ultimately be the defining moment of this series.
While Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett celebrated from the sideline, Davis took center stage. The drool showed in a slow-motion replay to a national television audience was simply a byproduct of the passion oozing from Baby's pores.
"Let me tell you something, when you're in the moment, you're in the moment," said Davis. "If I slobber, snot, spit, please excuse me. Kids, don't do that. Have manners and things like that."
Thursday's performance featured no manners from an unapologetic Davis, who helped himself to four offensive rebounds, which helped Boston emerge with a 20-10 advantage in second-chance points.
Davis scored seven points on Boston's 11-2 run to open the fourth quarter. His two free throws with 3:57 to go pushed the lead to double digits at 85-74.
The bench essentially hit the wall at that point, but the reserves had done enough to ensure the series would be tied by night's end.
"I just felt like a beast," said Davis. "Really, I'm going to just be honest with you. I just felt like I couldn't be denied. If a rebound was in my vicinity or if the ball was going to be laid up, you know, I just felt like I just couldn't be denied. And it kind of started off with me missing those two [shots] -- a layup and then the jump shot. I was really upset at myself, and I said I've got to seize the moment here.
"There's not too many times you get a chance to be in the Finals and be a part of something so great that you can never really imagine yourself even being here. I just couldn't be denied today."
Davis couldn't have imagined much of what transpired Thursday, even in his wildest dreams. Seated at the podium, he playfully patted Robinson as the diminutive guard answered questions, the two finding it impossible to stay serious for long. The duo was dressed like a pair of kids who didn't expect to be seated at the head table at a fancy dinner (Robinson sported a Celtics warm-up shirt, while Baby rocked a short-sleeve button-down).
And Davis couldn't have imagined logging 10 crucial minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 4. Even he admitted he kept looking at the clock, waiting for a tap on the shoulder from Kevin Garnett to take his place.
Did they want to finish it out? Of course. And the two of them showed it by practically finishing each other's sentences as they detailed their thoughts after the game.
Davis: I was really looking at the clock like, when is he going to come get me?
Robinson: I was thinking the same thing.
Davis: We're playing, but a timeout goes by, [Rivers] doesn't sub. I was like, man, he's letting us roll.
Robinson: It was fun. It was fun today.
Davis: I want to give Doc a hug, man. I love Doc.
Robinson: Tell him, 'Thank you.'
Davis: I sure appreciate it.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson politely declined to comment on Davis and Robinson after the game, simply noting how impressive Boston's energy was in the final quarter.
Boston players had no such problem discussing the effort of the bench. Pierce dubbed it "fun" being on the sideline for the Davis-fueled fourth quarter.
"Baby is a much more confident player now," said Pierce. "You saw what he did last year in the playoffs. He came into his own when Kevin [Garnett] was hurt, had big games versus Orlando and Chicago, and he's going to be big. Our whole bench is going to be big. Just a couple of years ago the first championship we won, Baby wasn't even in the rotation. So to be here in this spotlight, to come in with a big game like this, that is huge for him."
Rivers admitted that he didn't see the drooling incident, but he hoped to catch the replay to find out what all the chatter was about. He has constantly challenged Davis to stay hungry in what's amounted to a roller-coaster season for the third-year forward.
On the biggest stage, it's clear he's still salivating for more.
"I've seen that [drooling] action before, it's usually after we run in practice," joked Rivers. "I didn't see it but all the guys were talking about it, so I'm sure I'll get a good laugh tonight or this morning when I'm watching film.
"You know, that's who he is, though. He has a lot of passion. There's times you love him and times he drives you nuts. But overall his heart is always in the right place, and you just take it."Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.