Many thought that for the Celtics to have a chance in this series, the Big Three would have to get on the same page. Nope.
Turns out they only needed an appearance by two of DreamWorks Animation's most famous characters.
Shrek and Donkey came in for the 4th quarter and gave the Celtics the spark they needed. Davis added nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter while Robinson chipped in with 12 points on the night. Davis also grabbed five rebounds, four of which were offensive. It was their energy, however, that catapulted the Celtics over the Lakers.
"I thought we were lacking [energy] in that one stretch," said Doc Rivers, "and they came in, Nate - Tony Allen was phenomenal tonight with his energy, Baby was phenomenal, Rasheed was unbelievable. I thought the entire bench unit with Ray, they were great."
"We did our job today, said Robinson. "We went in, we played hard, played smart, played together. And then the guys, the starting five, they go in and they bring us home. That's the beauty about a team."
It was a complete team effort tonight, as no player reached the 20-point plateau and no player topped seven rebounds. The Celtics did out-rebound the Lakers 41-37. For the fourth time in four games, the team with the most rebounds has won.
Paul Pierce was subbed into the game with 2:51 to go, and he went on to score seven points in that span. His step back jumper with 2:18 to go pushed the Celtics lead to eight points. After a Bryant basket, Pierce again answered- this time driving to the hoop for the basket and the foul. His free throws with fewer than ten seconds to go pushed the lead back to seven points, sealing the Celtics 96-89 victory and evening the series.
"When I came in the game Rondo said he was going to give me the pick and roll," said Pierce. "Coach said also, let's get a pick and roll with Kevin and myself. Those guys said attack, be aggressive ... When I play on my instincts and attack and you know aggressive I'm a much better player, and that's what I wanted to do when I got back in there in the fourth."
While Pierce didn't have his highest scoring night of the Finals, he definitely had his most productive- finishing with 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Pierce has had the mentality all playoffs that the offense doesn't need to go through him. He has consistently stated that these games are bigger than he is- and he's right.
Many have questioned Pierce's maturity throughout his career, but it is clear that while the veteran talks his fair share of trash on the court, he has grown into the player and person that all Celtics fans can be proud to call a true Celtic. It has never been more evident than in this postseason that Pierce has accepted the type of player and leader that he is now and is willing to sacrifice the extra points to prevent them on the other end.
All T'd Up
In the midst of the Celtics' 4th quarter energy burst, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson picked up technical fouls. Doc Rivers has had a "no 4th quarter technical fouls" rule throughout the season, but they got away with it tonight based on the way they were playing out there.
The problem is that now Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins both have six technical fouls. While Perkins has not run into any technical fouls this series, some think that his tough nose play has suffered a bit due to the fact that he doesn't want to pick up that seventh technical foul.
Now, Rasheed Wallace may be faced with the same dilemma. Losing either one of these guys for Game 6 or 7 could ultimately prove to be the difference between winning and losing the championship.
"It is a concern," said Doc Rivers. "The Lakers know that. Somehow we're going to have to keep out composure ... But listen, we've put ourselves in this situation, and we're going to have to play ourselves out of it."
If they can just hold up until Game 7, they can each get that one technical that they'll be itching for by that point.
We'll take a one game suspension for Game 8.