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Nate, Davis come off bench to spark Celtics past Lakers

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass the ball against the Boston Celltics during Game Four of the 2010 NBA Finals. (June 10, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

BOSTON - Glen Davis let out a fierce roar that spewed drool from his mouth as Nate Robinson clung to the 300-pound forward's back screaming with joy.

"Like Shrek and Donkey," said the 5-9 Robinson.

It was the Celtics' cast of characters off the bench that combined for both comedy and drama in a 96-89 win Thursday night in Game 4 to tie the NBA Finals at 2.

Doc Rivers had three starters waiting at the scorer's table late in the fourth quarter and then had a change of heart. He stuck with the subs - a volatile group that also included Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace - and managed to get valuable rest for his overworked starters, who were enjoying the effort from the bench and actually didn't want to have to check back into the game.

"That's the loudest I've seen our bench," Rivers said, "and that was the starters."

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 19 points, Davis had 18 points in 23 minutes and Robinson had 12 points in 17 minutes. They were key figures in a wild fourth quarter, which opened with an 11-2 Celtics run. Davis overpowered Pau Gasol and outworked Lamar Odom during the spurt that gave the Celtics a 71-64 lead.

Robinson, the former Knick who has found a niche in Boston, drilled a three-pointer with 4:21 left to put the Celtics ahead 84-74. The shot came shortly after Robinson drew an offensive foul on Odom, but he then got up and taunted Odom, which resulted in a technical foul. Ray Allen scolded Robinson at the bench, but Rivers, who had Rajon Rondo waiting to check in, kept Robinson in the game.

Wallace also was hit with a technical in the quarter, but Rivers was more annoyed by Robinson's unnecessary bravado with Odom.

"We don't need to be tough," Rivers said, "especially at whatever height you are."

Through the big plays and bad ones, the subs admittedly were waiting for the hook that never came. "I'm looking at the clock saying, 'When is he going to get me?'" Davis said.

"I was doing the same thing," Robinson replied.

Compared to the revved up Celtics, the Lakers looked flat. Kobe Bryant had 33 points and Gasol added 21, but the rest of the Lakers struggled to get anything going offensively. It was Derek Fisher's turn in this series to deal with early foul trouble and Phil Jackson made an unsolicited reference to Odom's underwhelming effort by saying, "I thought Lamar was going to kind of sit this one out" before he eventually got it going late in the game. Too little, too late.

The Lakers desperately need production out of Odom, with Andrew Bynum (two points, three rebounds in 12:10) clearly limited by his injured right knee.

They also need to figure out how to deal with the Celtics' energetic bench, which often may give Rivers headaches, but last night gave one to Jackson, though he refused to answer a question about his strategy for Davis and Robinson.

"I don't have no comment, either," Davis said, drawing laughs from the room full of entertained reporters. "If Phil Jackson don't have no comment, then I don't have no comment."

Notes & quotes: Julius Erving said "it would be a treat for New York" if a player of LeBron James' caliber was to play for either the Knicks or the Nets. "The bigger question is: Can he handle it?" Erving then said. "New York is a little different, as you know and it's not meant for everybody. LeBron's a bit of a homebody, a country boy. So there's a lot of weight and a lot of pressure on him because when you step between these lines, the show must go on. But I think he would perform and I think he would perform on the big stage quite well." Erving was among several NBA legends at the game, including Knicks Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.

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