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TA: We need that focus for rest of series

06.11.10 at 11:34 am ET
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From the moment Tony Allen showed up at the Garden on Thursday he could sense the urgency. From captain Paul Pierce to Kevin Garnett to everyone on what turned out to be a great bench, the task was at hand was very, very clear.

Win or else.

Now, with the 96-89 win over the Lakers in Game 4 in the bank and the NBA finals tied, 2-2, Allen wants to see that urgency for the remainder of the series. And if he does, he thinks the Celtics could very well be hoisting he Larry O’Brien trophy when it’s awarded next week at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“Earlier at shootaround it felt like a must-win game,” Allen said. “I was looking at everybody’s focus, guys were in there early, getting shots up, in getting treatment. Guys were pretty much focused. I like that side of those guys. We’re going to definitely need them to be focused for the rest of the series.”

Of course, leading the way in providing focus is captain Paul Pierce. He was the last remaining member of the ‘Big Three’ not to have a big game in the series so far. People were wondering if the Celtics stood a chance if he didn’t get his motor started in Game 4.

Pierce scored a team-high 19 points but it was the leadership he showed early in the game that impressed Allen. And Allen sensed Pierce was going to have something special in store well before tip-off.

“I think he had that vision in his mind,” Allen said. “He just came out and said, ‘I’m going to be Paul Pierce today no matter what the defense tries to do.’ He got the name ‘The Truth’ for being the truth. He definitely was big.

“He’s ‘The Truth.’ We’re definitely going to need him for the rest of the series. We’re going to need him to be The Truth for these three games. I’m glad he got it going and it showed why we won.”

Read More: Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals, Paul Pierce

Legler on D&C: Nate’s energy priceless

06.11.10 at 9:44 am ET
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ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the NBA finals, following the Celtics‘ Game 4 win Thursday night. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“Last night was the quintessential Celtics defense that we’ve come to know out of this team for the last three years.” Legler said, noting that the officials helped the C’s by letting them play.

Legler said Nate Robinson’s performance off the bench makes him wonder even more why the former Knick hasn’t seen more playing time. “I’ve kind of been scratching my head, going back about a month, as to why he wasn’t regularly in the rotation down the stretch of the season and in the postseason,” Legler said.

“One thing I love about Nate Robinson, he never thinks the stage is too big,” Legler added. “He believes every time he’s on the court he’s the best player on the floor. I have a lot of respect for guys that don’t care about the moment, that can come in ‘€” sit there for a month, the way he did in the Orlando series and come in and give you 13 points in an important game the way he did in that series ‘€” and then to come in last night on that stage. He just plays like, ‘I belong here. This is my game.’ … I just don’t think you can put a price tag on the energy that that guy provides.”

Legler, who stands by his prediction of Celtics in six, said if the C’s can finally put together a balanced offensive night, the Lakers will be in trouble. “I think offensively they’ve been so out of sync and so far from where they can be,” he said. “Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and [Rajon] Rondo ‘€” they haven’t come close to playing well on the same night yet. And once they do, the Lakers I just don’t think can beat this team.”

Read More: Celtics, Dennis & Callahan, Lakers, Nate Robinson

A technical situation

06.11.10 at 2:57 am ET
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The Celtics came into this series with the knowledge that Kendrick Perkins was sitting on six technical fouls and a seventh would mean an automatic one-game suspension. You can add Rasheed Wallace to the endangered Celtic list after he was whistled for his sixth in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

For good measure, Nate Robinson also got one after getting in Lamar Odom’s face. The Celtics have a rule against getting techs in the fourth quarter, but Doc Rivers was happy to waive it for one night.

“They were playing with great emotion,” Rivers said. “Even Nate, that was the one I didn’t like more than Rasheed’s. We don’t have to be tough, especially at whatever height you are. But that’s who he is. But they were playing well. They were happy. They were excited. So, it’s a fine line.”

Rivers said he hoped the league would rescind the technical on Wallace because, “he did a dance but he ran away. I didn’t think he said anything. The dance was funny, and so I could see it, but i don’t know.”

Rivers is concerned that the Lakers will use that against both Wallace and Perkins. He even pulled Perkins after he got physical with Pau Gasol late in the third quarter, fearing that a double-technical was on its way. We’ve got to get him out because you could see it,” Rivers said. “The double-technical was about to come But listen, we put ourselves in this situation and we’re going to have to play ourselves out of it.”

Read More: Double-technicals, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace,

Kobe credits Celtics defense

06.11.10 at 2:20 am ET
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Paul Pierce wouldn’t budge on the effectiveness of Ron Artest‘s defense. Kobe Bryant, though, was more generous with his praise after the Celtics Game 4 victory.

After shooting 10-for-22 for the second time this series, Bryant admitted the Celtics are doing their job on defense.

“They’re a great scheming team,” he said following the Celtics’ 96-89 win. “They have a strategy in place and they execute extremely well. I feel pretty comfortable. Wasn’t pleased with the way I took care of the ball tonight. I thought I did a horrible job of that. But it’s a great defense.”

The Celtics forced seven turnovers on Bryant, the most he committed since May 4 against the Jazz. He entered the game averaging just over three per game.

After the Lakers loss, Bryant denied questions of a tweaked knee or any type of exhaustion. The Celtics defense was simply effective.

Said Bryant, “Oh, it’s right up there with the best of them.”

Read More: Celtics, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Paul Pierce

Lakers lament loss of Bynum

06.11.10 at 1:23 am ET
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The Lakers had to play almost the entire second half of  Game 4 without starting center Andrew Bynum, who was limited to just 12:10 overall as he continues to struggle with a right knee injury. Bynum was in the locker room to begin the second half, and played only 1:50 in the final two quarters. Without his presence in the middle (eight blocks in the first three games), the Celtics— particularly Glen Davis— were able to attack the basket throughout a key fourth quarter and even the series at two games apiece.

“We didn’t have that big presence in the middle, and Big Baby took full advantage of it,” said Kobe Bryant. “He played extremely, extremely well for them.”

Bynum, who had listed himself as “questionable” for Game 4 with the knee injury, clearly labored during his short time on the floor Thursday. He was far from the player that had averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in Games 1-3. The Lakers were also not the same team with Bynum as a non-factor.

“It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half,” said Phil Jackson. “He tried for a couple of minutes, but it just wasn’t there for him. We’re glad we have a couple of days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again.”

Should Bynum miss Sunday’s Game 5, Lamar Odom (39 minutes in Game 4) will almost certainly take his spot in the starting lineup. Odom hopes the change does not need to take place.

“Andrew is a big part of what we do,” noted Odom. “When we have him going we are a different team.

[With Bynum out] we have to protect the paint. We have to rebound as a unit especially without him out of the game to make up for his size and shot-blocking ability and the way he protects the rim as a seven-footer.”

But the Lakers will be prepared if they must play Game 5 without their center. Bynum has been far from an iron man during his career, having missed a total of 96 regular-season games over the past three seasons.

“We’ve played without him obviously in the lineup before,” said Bryant. “We got a good rhythm going with him in the lineup. We’ll just figure it out.”

One of Bynum’s fellow starters isn’t worried, however.

“It was tougher with Andrew out, but he’ll be fine for the next game.” said Ron Artest.

He’s going to be fine?

“Yeah. He’ll be ready to go.”

Three things that went right and wrong in Game 4

06.10.10 at 11:56 pm ET
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The NBA finals are once again tied after the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 96-89, in Game 4 on Thursday night. (Recap.) The Celtics had six scorers in double figures, led by 18 from Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who was dominant down the stretch, and 19 from captain Paul Pierce. Game 5 is Sunday night back at TD Garden.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT

Sparkplugs off the bench: One’€™s called Big Baby and the other looks like, well, a baby on the floor, but supersubs Glen Davis and Nate Robinson certainly didn’€™t play like their labels Thursday night. The duo combined for 30 points, but it was the pure energy each provided for the C’€™s off the bench in the fourth quarter that helped the team to victory. One of the greatest video clips from Game 4 was Davis slobbering with Robinson on his back after Davis made a layup on which he was fouled. That one play electrified the TD Garden crowd and pushed the C’€™s towards an incredible run in the final quarter, in which Boston outscored the Lakers, 36-27.

Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds: Boston found a way to win again because they were able to keep the Lakers big men off the boards. After being outrebounded 43-35 in Game 3, the Celtics won the battle down low 41-33 in their win in Game 4. All five starters had more than five boards, and Davis added five of his own with four of those coming on the offensive end. By winning the rebounding battle, the C’€™s were able to take away the size advantage that the Lakers utilized perfectly in their wins in Games 1 and 3.

Paul Pierce’€™s play in the first quarter: Pierce was the only member of the Big Four without a truly dominating performance in any of the first three games, and several of his critics had said that he needed to step it up if the team was going to succeed. Pierce held up his end of the bargain by going off for 10 points in the first frame while the offense undeniably went through him. The rest of the team managed only nine during that time.

THREE THINGS THAT WENT WRONG

Poor first-half shooting: The C’€™s had more than their fair share of quality shots in the first half but shot just 41 percent from the field. The C’s missed several open jumpers and even some layups. Those misses translated into just 42 first-half points and a three-point deficit that could have been much larger had the Lakers not had their own offensive struggles.

Allowing Kobe to hit some big 3’s in the third quarter: There was a time in the third that it seemed like Kobe Bryant just couldn’€™t miss from behind the arc. The C’€™s were giving him just enough room to pull the trigger, and that’€™s something you simply cannot do against Bryant. He was 5-for-6 at one point from deep and seemed to be in place to endanger Ray Allen‘€™s finals record for 3-pointers in a game. He eventually cooled, but the three-straight 3’s he made to close out the quarter allowed the Lakers to stay ahead going into the fourth.

Timing could have been everything: Although they certainly didn’€™t affect the outcome, Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson both had ill-timed technical fouls in the fourth quarter. Wallace’€™s technical came after the team had garnered an eight-point lead in the fourth. It very well could have sucked away all the momentum the team had gathered over the previous two minutes and change. Robinson’€™s T two minutes later threatened to do the same thing. If the C’€™s want to continue to thrive in the final stanza, they cannot pick up potential game-changing T’€™s in close games.

Read More: Glen Davis, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Nate Robinson

Jackson: Bynum playing with pain

06.10.10 at 8:49 pm ET
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Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said that his starting center will try to play through right knee pain in Game 4 of the NBA finals against the Celtics.

“I think he’ll give it a shot and see how he goes from there.” Jackson said. “The big factor is he knows he’s going to be in some kind of discomfort during course of a game. It comes. It goes. He feels sharp pain when he makes a certain move. He understands what it is so it’s not something he gets concerned about doing again.”

[Click here to hear Phil Jackson talk about the pain Bynum is playing through.]

Bynum had the knee drained just before the Finals began and was told by Lakers doctors and trainers to expect discomfort and limited mobility if he chose to play in the series. Bynum has started all three games and played at least 28 minutes in each of the first contests.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Celtics, Lakers, NBA Finals
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