Bench presses Boston to Game Four win

By Adrian Crawford

With their stars watching from the sidelines, the Celtics surged to a series-levelling 96-89 win over Los Angeles in Game Four of the NBA Finals on Friday.

Reserve forward Glen Davis and back-up guard Nate Robinson lit up their home court as the second unit piled on 19 points to open the fourth quarter.

Under the looming threat of the Lakers closing out the series in Boston, the Celtics stepped up after a disappointing effort in Game Three.

Monday's fifth clash will be key for both teams - 19 of the 25 NBA Finals have been won by the side that took the honours in Game Five.

Boston coach Doc Rivers opted to rest Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce down the stretch as the neck-and-neck clash had all the hallmarks of an overtime thriller.

When Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (21 points, six rebounds) remained on the court to start the fourth Rivers' decision looked shaky, but Davis and Robinson's energy and momentum could barely be contained.

An emotional Davis told ESPN that the Celtics rode a wave of enthusiasm to victory.

"It's will, it's determination, you just have to go out there and put a body on a body," he said.

"This is what legends are made of.

"You grab the moment, it's immortality and you play in the moment."

The five-foot-nine Robinson dived for a steal with scores tied at 64-64 at the start of the fourth, a play which sparked the Celtics surge.

"Coach really harps on energy, coming in and playing together as a team," he told ESPN.

"Moving the ball, getting multiple stops, that's our focus.

"You've gotta hustle, I'm real big on doing the little things because a lot of people, they overlook that.

"You just got to keep playing no matter what and good things will happen, the harder you play.

"I just played natural, go in and just play the way that I love to play with a lot of passion and energy."

Garnett, Pierce and Rondo checked back in with under three minutes remaining but by then the result was almost a foregone conclusion, with the Celtics enjoying an eight-point lead.

Davis finished with 18 points and five rebounds and Robinson had 12 points including two three-pointers, while Pierce led his team with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Ray Allen had 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, two nights after his disastrous 0-for-13 effort in Game Three, but his best efforts were on Bryant, whom he covered with physical defence.

To make things tougher for Los Angeles, Bryant was tied down defensively by Tony Allen and was forced to score seven of his nine final-quarter points from the free-throw line.

The Lakers star led all scorers with 33 points, and a 3-1 series lead looked imminent when he had a hot run after half-time, hitting three long three-pointers to give the visitors a narrow lead.

The fifth game of the series will surely test Los Angeles' endurance, after Bryant, Gasol and Ron Artest all playing 40-plus minutes in the loss.

As expected between the two arch-enemies, it was an emotionally raw clash and physical play was the name of the game.

Rasheed Wallace and Robinson were both called for technical fouls as tempers boiled over and the atmosphere in TD Garden reached fever pitch as the Celtics built their late lead.

Wallace's T threatened to snap Boston's momentum after the home side went on a 14-4 run, but Robinson hit a sweet teardrop in the lane and Wallace redeemed himself with a three-pointer.

The Celtics got off to a quick start, making five of their first 10 shots, but they went 3-for-12 to finish the quarter as they moved away from driving to the basket and started throwing up jump shots.

Los Angeles can take heart in the fact that Lamar Odom has turned in two solid performances in a row after being a virtual non-factor in games one and two.

The athletic back-up forward may see more minutes in the clashes that follow, given the knee problems Andrew Bynum experienced on Wednesday that appeared to resurface.

Bynum did not appear on the bench until several minutes into the second half, re-emerging with a large brace on his problem knee


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