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'Big Baby' Becomes Big Man for Celtics

Jun 11, 2010 – 2:39 AM
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Chris Tomasson

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Glen DavisBOSTON -- At the start of the season, there were plenty of Celtics spewing saliva. It was because they were seething about Glen Davis' boneheaded injury.

On Thursday, it was Davis' mouth that was dripping. And everybody on the team was laughing about it.

The big man named "Big Baby'' fashioned perhaps Boston's biggest feel-good story of the season Thursday night at TD Garden. He scored 18 points off the bench in the Celtics' 96-89 win over the Lakers in Thursday's Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and then laughed away during a postgame press conference. One of the highlights was Davis being asked about the drool emerging when he was yelling after a fourth-quarter layup that resulted in a three-point play.

"Let me tell you something right quick,'' Davis said. "When you're in the moment, you're in the moment. If I slobber, snot, spit, please excuse me. Kids, don't do that. Have manners and things like that. Sorry about that. Did I catch you with some?''



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What Davis did during Thursday's game was quite acceptable with the Celtics. What he did last October, just before the start of the regular season, wasn't.

Davis suffered a broken right thumb after getting into a fight with a friend. He missed the first two months of the season, and then took a few weeks to really get back in shape.

But Davis vowed in an interview last December with FanHouse the injury would become a "blessing in disguise'' because he said it was "God telling me what I have to do to better my life.''

Davis, who was fined after the incident, sure is doing a lot better now.

"He's just grown,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Davis, averaging 8.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in the playoffs, up from 6.3 and 3.8 during the regular season. "And the way he broke his thumb showed immaturity. And I think that spirit helped him in some ways.''

An argument could be made the injury turned Davis into a more versatile player. Celtics guard Tony Allen won't ever forget how the big man worked when he was sidelined, including improving his left hand.

"Glen Davis is definitely a hard worker,'' Allen said. "He was one of those guys who I saw early in the year when he was wasn't playing, he was still working on moves with his left hand when his thumb was broken. Doing sprints up and down the court. Everything is paying off for Glen Davis right now. I'm just glad he fought back. I'm definitely taking my hat off to him. He's big.''

Davis is that literally. He's 6-foot-9, 289 pounds, but still amazingly quick for a man that size.

Nate Robinson and Glen Davis

LAKERS 2, CELTICS 2

Game 4: Celtics 96, Lakers 89 | Box Score
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Tomasson: Keys to Celtics' Game 4 Win
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SI.com: Game 4 Report Card

Game 5: Sun., June 13 | NBA Finals Schedule

Davis used that quickness for buckets inside, scoring 11 of his points in the second half as the Celtics rode their bench to tie the series 2-2. But Davis' girth came in handy considering the Lakers only got 12 minutes out of their brawniest player, 7-foot, 285-pound center Andrew Bynum, due to his continuously troublesome right knee injury.

"We didn't have that big presence in the middle, and 'Big Baby' took advantage of it,'' said Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant, whose 33 points weren't enough to help L.A. to a 3-1 series lead. "And he played extremely, extremely well.''

Davis, who also grabbed five rebounds, did his damage in just 22 minutes. He playing 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points.

With four bench players logging nine or more minutes in the quarter, Boston starters Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo only played the final 2:51 of the fourth and center Kendrick Perkins didn't take the court at all. But the Celtics outscored the Lakers 36-27 in the quarter to pull away.

"I was really looking at the clock like, when is he going to come get me?'' Davis said.

As for Rivers letting Davis play all those minutes, the third-year man said, "I want to give Doc a hug, man. I love Doc.''

Rivers wanted to hug all four of his top reserves. Forward Rasheed Wallace logged 22 minutes, Allen 18 and guard Nate Robinson 17. Allen played solid defense on Bryant and Robinson had 12 points.

"I feel good for all those guys,'' Rivers said. "There's 'Big Baby,' when he had all the problems that he had at the start of the season, Nate, who people have been on, and Rasheed, Tony Allen. We had the four guys who probably have had the most criticism play the best for us in a game that the bottom line was we had to win.''

Allen said the reserves started to get fired up late in the third quarter when the Lakers were up by a few points and the bench players were still on the, well, bench. That's when normally low-key assistant coach Armond Hill sprung into action.

"Coach Hill, he just started yelling out of nowhere, 'We need you guys to be ready,''' Allen said. "That's the first time I've seen him out of character. He's pretty much a smooth guy ... We looked at him like, 'Wow.'''

The reserves were ready, especially Davis. He checked in for Garnett with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter just before Celtics guard Ray Allen hit two foul shots to put Boston up 58-56.

"The momentum came from Glen 'Baby' Davis,''' said Tony Allen. "He was huge. He was doing it offensively, defensively ... He was big for us.''

Tony Allen again was speaking figuratively, but Davis' bulk helped him get a layup in the waning seconds of the third quarter. The fourth quarter featured a Davis reverse layup, another layup, a put-back layup and three throws.

"I just felt like a beast,'' said Davis, who spewed saliva on the put-back, which, followed by a free throw, gave the Celtics a 71-64 lead with 8:22 left. "Really, I'm going to be honest with you. I just felt like I couldn't be denied.''

It was a great feeling, especially considering the season started with Davis' thumb injury denying him from being able to help the Celtics at all.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at tomasson@fanhouse.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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