Rasheed Wallace has a mouth and attitude as big as the Ted Williams Tunnel.
Nate Robinson is a sparrow among eagles, unafraid to take aerial swoops to the hoop or fling shots that seem to come flying from the State House dome.
The Boston Celtics go into Game 5 on Sunday tied 2-2 with the Los Angeles Lakers largely because those pumped-up bench men took control of Game 4 in the fourth quarter Thursday night to lead the Celtics from a third-quarter deficit to a 96-89 victory.
The Lakers under Phil Jackson are masters of adjustment in the playoffs, but they'll have to figure out a way Sunday to dampen the energy the Celtics’ bench brings to avoid a long flight home, with the series tilted against them.
Alternately bruising and amusing, with Glen “Big Baby” Davis bowling over defenders and howling and drooling in delight, this game guaranteed the best-of-seven series will go back to Los Angeles next week.
Robinson, a foot shorter and 115 pounds lighter than the 6-foot-9, 295-pound Davis, leapt on his broad back during a timeout after Baby’s put-back layup on a three-point play early in the fourth quarter. Davis roared as spittle flew from chin.
“I just felt like a beast,” said Davis, who scored 18 points, including a layup on an offensive rebound to close out the third quarter and nine points in the first eight minutes of the fourth. “I just felt like I couldn’t be denied. … 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.”
They sat together after the game, Davis and Robinson, like brothers who had come out on different sides of the gene pool.
“I just feel like a kid at the park,” said Robinson, who scored 12 points and was grateful to be fitting in with the Celtics in the playoffs after his trade from the New York Knicks midway through the season.
The Lakers, hurt by the limited play of injured center Andrew Bynum, have to figure out a way to cope with the resurgent Boston bench. But when asked about any strategy to deal with Davis, Robinson and Wallace, Jackson issued a terse response:
“Nah, I don’t want to talk about that.”
Boston coach Doc Rivers could hardly contain himself in his excitement over the contributions of his bench players, who collectively more than compensated for Kobe Bryant’s 33-point effort.
“Tony Allen was phenomenal tonight with his energy, Baby was phenomenal, Rasheed was unbelievable,” said Rivers, who rued only the technical foul called on Wallace for a little celebratory dance that was deemed taunting. That gave Wallace, like Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, six technicals in the playoffs. One more for either of them would force them to miss the next game.
“I hope they rescind that one,” Rivers said of Wallace’s technical. “I thought he did a dance, but he ran away. I don’t think he said anything. The dance was funny.”
Follow LIVE: The Knicks got a big performance from Carmelo Anthony to stay alive in Game 5, but the series shifts to Indiana, and George Hill returns to the Pacers.
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