Celtics' other Big Four wins Game 4
Editor's note: Rick Fox offers a unique view of the latest NBA Finals showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, having worn the uniforms of both teams. He was a Celtic from 1991 to '97 and a Laker from 1998 to 2004, winning three championships in purple and gold.
The Big Four finally showed up for the Boston Celtics Thursday in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Not the Big Four you would expect. Not Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. I didn't see a lot of enthusiasm or defense from those guys. What I saw mostly was missed shots and blown layups.
No the Big Four who turned this game around and tied the series at 2-2 came off Boston's bench. I'm talking about Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen and Nate Robinson.
They supplied hard defense and fiery enthusiasm. They raised the level of enthusiasm in the whole building in the fourth quarter. You could almost feel TD Garden shift.
Rasheed on Pau Gasol and Tony on Kobe Bryant played the best one-on-one defense of anybody on the floor.
Certainly more defense than I saw from the Celtics' starters. If I'm coach Doc Rivers, I buy four hearing aids for the next game and hand them out to the Big Four starters. How could they not hear the Garden crowd chanting "Dee-fense" all night?
That message certainly got through to the bench.
While I'm giving out credit to Boston, a large share has to go to Rivers for sticking with his subs at a crucial time in the fourth quarter.
One of the most difficult things for a coach, when he's getting that kind of play from his bench players, is to stick with them. There's always the fear they'll hang you out to dry. You are always afraid that guys who play limited minutes are going to run out of gas.
Or that Kobe is going to take a look at who is guarding him and cut loose.
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But Doc put those concerns out of his mind. At one point, he had Garnett, Pierce and Rondo all poised to go back in. But then, he tapped Rondo on the shoulder, pulled all those guys back and let the game keep going with his second-string Big Four.
That, to me, was the deciding moment in the game.
Davis made Rivers' decision easy by matching his enthusiasm with production. Davis scored 18 points in 22 minutes.
That made up for the first half when the starters couldn't seem to find the basket, regardless of how open a shot they had or how little the degree of difficulty.
I was sitting with former Celtics player and coach K.C. Jones and he was counting the number of times Boston would run the break and fail to finish, coming up with absolutely nothing. It was so uncharacteristic of this team, especially in its biggest game of the season.
The Lakers' glaring problem was rebounding. They were beaten 41-34 on the boards. What really hurt was the discrepancy in offensive rebounds. The Celtics doubled the Lakers' total, dominating 16-8.
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It didn't help that Andrew Bynum, hampered by a bad knee, played only 12 minutes and had just three rebounds.
Boston also doubled the Lakers' total in bench scoring 36-18. The only Lakers reserve to make an impact was Lamar Odom with 10 points and 7 rebounds. He had plenty of time to produce, logging 39 minutes, many of those normally going to Bynum.
The Lakers have one more game here before they get to return to the comfort of Staples Center. If they win Game 5, they will have two games at home to win one. If they lose, they will have to win two at home.
Before tonight, I would have said the outcome of this series could hinge on Boston's Big Four.
I'm still saying that, but now, I'm not sure which Big Four we're talking about.