Celtics Bury Lakers in Fourth Quarter, Even Up NBA Finals With 96-89 Win

Celtics Bury Lakers in Fourth Quarter, Even Up NBA Finals With 96-89 Win Final: Celtics 96, Lakers 89. For three quarters, this was a close game. In the fourth, the Celtics blew away the visiting Lakers, and they're now tied 2-2 in these NBA Finals because of it.

The C's outscore L.A. 36-27 in the final 12 minutes, getting a huge spark off the bench from Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen. This game came down to who could bring energy to the game in the fourth quarter, and thanks to the C's second unit, there was no question.

Davis finishes with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Nate adds 12. T.A. brings big-time intensity on the defensive end, changing the game with his tenacious defense on Kobe Bryant.

The C's have once again evened the score. Game 5 will be a pivotal one in these NBA Finals. See you all Sunday night, right back here at the TD Garden.

Fourth quarter, 22.2 seconds, Celtics 92-86: "Don't
Stop Believing" is blaring at the TD Garden. These fans never stopped
believing in their Celtics — and it now looks like their faith is
paying off.

A Rajon Rondo steal and a transition bucket is the icing on the cake.

The Celtics now have a six-point lead and the ball. They're ready to close the deal in Game 4.

Hold on to that feeling, Boston.

Fourth quarter, 1:17, Celtics 89-81: Pierce to the basket. Bucket, and the foul. The captain has a chance to put the C's up nine with just over a minute to play.

Is this thing over?

Fourth quarter, 2:11, Celtics 87-79: Paul Pierce knocks down the elbow jumper. Seriously, these Celtics can't miss.

Fourth quarter, 2:51, Celtics 85-77: Phil Jackson calls for a timeout. What's he going to pull out of his sleeve now?

It's
going to take a miracle to slow down these Celtics now. They've
outscored the Lakers 25-15 in this fourth quarter. For the game, they
now have a 48-32 advantage in points in the paint. The C's are driving,
slashing, dishing, shooting, scoring. They're just on fire.

And for the most part, they haven't even needed their starters. It's been all Nate Robinson and Glen Davis.

It's surreal, really. But the Celtics are going with what works.

Fourth quarter, 4:22, Celtics 83-74: Nate Robinson, tiny little barrel of energy, just keeps going off for the Celtics.

He's got six points in the last three minutes. He's playing with more passion than anyone on the floor.

Some people get to the Finals, and they're happy to be there. Nate?
He's absolutely, insanely, out-of-his-mind jubilated to be here.

Fourth quarter, 5:39, Celtics 79-72: Nate Robinson, of all
people, loses his cool and gets right up in Lamar Odom's face. Rasheed
Wallace, of all people, settles him down.

Timeout, Boston. This is a big moment for Doc Rivers, to calm his
team down and keep them focused on the task at hand. If they stay
composed, they're less than six minutes away from a 2-2 split in the
Finals.

Fourth quarter, 6:16, Celtics 79-70: Redemption for Sheed, in the form of a huge 3 from the top of the key. The Celtics lead by nine for the first time tonight.

If they can keep their cool and play smart, composed team defense, the Celtics are on their way to tying this series.

Fourth quarter, 7:25, Celtics 74-66: Uh oh. Rasheed Wallace is losing his composure.

You
knew this would happen at some point in these Finals, didn't you? Sheed
hacks Kobe Bryant, he comes up barking at the officials, and he's
immediately T'd up. Including the technical, it's three shots for Kobe.

Calm down, Sheed. Your team needs you here.

Fourth quarter, 8:22, Celtics 70-64: Tony Allen isn't shying away from the challenge of guarding Kobe Bryant. You've got to admire his heart.

On
one end, T.A. has slowed down Kobe dramatically; on the other, Glen
Davis and Ray Allen have come to life for the Celtics as a two-man
offensive tag team. Ray and Big Baby have done all the scoring in this
fourth quarter for the Celtics, who have jumped out to a six-point lead.

Timeout, Lakers. They need it.

Fourth quarter, 10:09, 64-64: Nate Robinson is excited. Can you tell?

By
crashing into Jordan Farmar, forcing a turnover and calling a timeout
before Farmar can force a jump-ball situation, Nate gets the Celtics a
big takeaway. And he's more excited about it than a kid at Disneyland.

The C's have the ball and the momentum. Can they take the lead?

End of third quarter, Lakers 62-60: Kobe Bryant for three. Again and again and again.

With
back-to-back trifectas toward the end of the third quarter, Bryant is
now 4-of-5 from long range. The Lakers are hoping they can ride his hot
shooting to victory tonight, and I'll tell you what. It just might work.

Kobe's got 21 points to lead the way after three quarters.

They call him the game's greatest closer. Tonight, he might have to prove it.

Third quarter, 2:13, Celtics 58-56: You've got to admire the way
Kobe Bryant tries to defend against Ray and Rondo on a 2-on-1 fast
break. But you pretty much have to be superhuman to stop those two guys.

Ray
draws a foul from Kobe, he gets to the line, and he hits two shots.
After a long scoring drought for both teams, the Celtics have finally
pulled ahead.

Now let's see if they can hold a lead.

Third quarter, 4:03, 56-56: We were all wondering after Game 3
how good the Celtics would be if everyone found their rhythm, right? We
might not have to wonder anymore.

Now
Ray Allen's starting to turn it on. The Big Three have all got it going
at the same time — if they can sustain this effort the rest of the
way, the Celtics have a very good chance of tying this thing up 2-2.

Third quarter, 5:53, Lakers 53-52: Rondo's back to being Rondo.
Get running in transition off a defensive rebound, whip the ball
downcourt, get a bucket for a teammate. In this case, Kevin Garnett.

KG's
lay-in cuts the L.A. lead to a mere one. The Celtics have come out with
renewed energy since Doc's timeout just over two minutes ago.

Derek Fisher just picked up his fourth foul, by the way. That's huge.

Third quarter, 8:24, Lakers 53-48: Doc Rivers calls for a
timeout. Not sure if he's more frustrated with his team's play, or with
the three-second violation that just cost his team a possession.

The
Celtics really need to keep from getting rattled. They were so annoyed
with the officiating just now that they weren't focused at all on
stopping Pau Gasol from getting an easy basket. The C's can't afford
lapses like that.

Pau has quietly piled up 17 points, by the way. A big chunk of his scoring has come from the free-throw line — he's 9-for-10.

Third quarter, 10:10, Lakers 49-44: Finally, Derek Fisher has scored for the first time tonight. Took him long enough.

What
do we think? Is this the sign of another breakout second half for Fish,
or have the Celtics figured him out since Tuesday night?

Halftime, Lakers 45-42: Halfway through Game 4, this one looks like a good old-fashioned duel between Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce.

Kobe
has 12 points, three rebounds and two assists tonight for the Lakers;
Pierce has 12 points, four boards and five assists for Boston.

How can you not love it? It's the last two Finals MVPs in the NBA, going at it on the game's biggest stage.

Expect more of the same in the second half. This is shaping up to be a great one.

Second quarter, 2:28, Lakers 39-35: Still scoreless tonight:
Derek Fisher. Either he's saving all for the fourth quarter again
tonight, or he's proving that Game 3 was just a fluke.

Meanwhile,
Kobe's going back to being his usual aggressive self. He's now 5-for-7
from the field for 12 points, equaling Paul Pierce's game high.

That's more like it, Mamba.

Second quarter, 4:09, Lakers 35-31: Relatively, for him, Kobe Bryant has been pretty much a non-factor so far tonight.

Kobe
took 29 shots in Game 3, dominating the Laker offense; he's gotten off
only five tonight. The Lakers aren't moving the ball through him much
at all — they're pumping it inside to Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom instead.

How
will Kobe respond? Will he cooperate and defer to his teammates
tonight, or will he press things and over-exert his will to take over
the game? It's a question of character, of personality, of chemistry.
And it's a question for which I have no answer.

Second quarter, 5:42, Celtics 29-28: It's all about winning the war inside. And so far tonight, the Celtics are holding their own.

Boston
has a 7-2 edge over L.A. in second-chance points, a huge turnaround
from their struggles in that department earlier in this series.
Offensive rebounding is a huge difference-maker against a long team
like the Lakers that crashes the boards well. Thanks to Kevin Garnett
and off the bench, Glen Davis, the Celtics are putting up a strong
fight.

Second quarter, 8:10, Celtics 27-26: Doc Rivers loves to talk about how his second unit provides this team with energy. That's never been clearer than it is tonight.

Nate,
Glen Davis and Tony Allen have been leaping and diving all over the
floor, showing their determination to win the 50-50 game and give the
Celtics an edge any way they can.

This is going to be a great game, all the way to the final buzzer. You can just see how badly both of these teams want it.

Second quarter, 10:21, Celtics 24-21: Maybe Nate Robinson thinks he's got a shot at Ray Allen's record.

Nate's
come off the bench in place of Rajon Rondo, and he's made back-to-back
attempts from 3-point range. With six points, he's scored more than
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher combined.

The little man's looking to have a big impact tonight.

End of first quarter, Celtics 19-16: Paul Pierce looks poised to give his best performance yet in these NBA Finals.

The
Celtics' captain has been carrying his team on his back early. On
defense, he's jumping all over every rebound; on offense, he's charging
the lane making things happen.

Ten points, four rebounds and two
assists for the Truth, with the second helper coming on a long 3 by
Nate Robinson on Boston's final possession.

The C's take an early lead. If they want to hold it, they've got to keep the defensive intensity going.

First quarter, 2:31, 14-14: Both teams have played tremendously strong defense in this first quarter. Hence the low score so far.

No
one's getting layups, save for occasionally Ray Allen on a fast-break
opportunity. In a game of this magnitude, you had to expect both teams
to work hard to clog up the paint, denying every open look they can
deny. Through nine-plus minutes, they've done just that.

With the
Lakers' defense looking this strong, Rajon Rondo isn't able to be Rajon
Rondo. The Celtics' young point guard hasn't hit a shot yet; all he's
got to show for his efforts are two rebounds and an assist.

First quarter, 3:50, Lakers 14-12: Doc Rivers has been letting
his starters play tonight. Glen Davis is the first guy to enter off the
bench for the C's, but not until eight minutes in.

This
is that "rhythm" thing Doc has been talking about all series. When your
guys stay out of foul trouble and stay on the floor, they can find it.
This is the first time in these Finals we've seen a long, uninterrupted
stretch for the Celtics' starting five in the first quarter.

First quarter, 5:30, Lakers 12-11: OK, Celtics fans, here's a scary thought: What if Kobe Bryant comes out hitting his shots tonight?

This
doesn't look like another 10-for-29 night in the making. Kobe has been
effective early on, knocking down a pair of difficult jump shots with a
defender's hand in his face.

When Kobe's really feeling it, he's
just impossible to guard. There's no one in the NBA quite like him in
that sense, and there hasn't been since Jordan.

First quarter, 7:56, Celtics 9-6: Paul Pierce is on fire. He's got seven points early, and the Celtics are on top.

The
Lakers should be worried — the C's are proving tonight that if they
all stay out of foul trouble and find a rhythm, this starting five is
really dangerous. With Pierce and Allen both clicking offensively
early, this team is really tough to beat.

First quarter, 9:44, Celtics 5-4: Good news for the Celtics: It will not be another oh-fer for Ray Allen tonight.

Ray
gets an early transition bucket to get the Celtics' offense moving, and
it's a small lead for the men in green early. If he can't get his
3-point shot working tonight, expect him to shift gears and become a
Rondo clone — running, gunning, getting baskets in transition.

For the first half of his career, it was his bread and butter.

8:55 p.m.: Grammy winner Anita Baker is just finishing up the
national anthem, and the Lakers and Celtics are ready to go with their
pregame introductions. Let's get ready to rumble.

8:15 p.m.: Less than an hour to game time, and the Lakers appear cautiously optimistic that their starting center is ready to play.

"I
think he'll give it a shot," coach Phil Jackson said of Andrew Bynum,
who's been battling knee pain in these Finals. "We'll see how it goes
from there.

"We'll try to get him six, seven minutes at the
beginning of the game. He likes to get out there and participate and
get a feel for the game, and we'll see how he goes from there."

Bynum has played an average of 32 minutes in the first three games, giving the Lakers 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.

7:05 p.m.: Welcome to the TD Garden in Boston, where we're
minutes away from locker rooms opening up to the media. Soon, we'll
have a better idea of the status of Lakers center Andrew Bynum for Game
4.

Bynum
has played through a knee injury all postseason, but coach Phil Jackson
said that the young big man "had a little bit of a struggle this
morning" on the Garden floor in shootaround, and it's now unclear
whether he'll be able to play on.

If Bynum can't play, expect to
see Pau Gasol in his place at center, meaning Lamar Odom will come off
the bench and match up with Kevin Garnett at the power forward position.

8:45 a.m.: Someone asked Rasheed Wallace on Wednesday afternoon
how important home-court advantage was in these NBA Finals. His answer
wasn't exactly gung ho in favor of good, old-fashioned home cooking.

"We could play on Jupiter," the Celtics' veteran said, "and it still really wouldn't matter."

The
C's better hope that Sheed's right. They're now down two games to one
in these Finals, and they've ceded home-court advantage back to the
Lakers.

Lose both games at the Garden now, and the Celtics are
done. Lose even one, and they're heading back to L.A. for Game 6 with
their backs up against the wall.

The message is clear: The
Celtics need to win on their home floor while they still have that
opportunity. Game 4 at the Garden is a huge one.

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 190,096 other followers