Starbury to the rescue
|05.13.09 at 1:05 am ET|
On Tuesday night, Glen Davis felt like he was back in high school, watching one of his NBA idols tear it up on the floor.
Only this time, Davis had a much better view than on TV. Davis was playing next to Stephon Marbury as the reserve guard came off the bench to re-energize his Celtic teammates at the most crucial point of the playoffs so far, helping deliver a stunning 92-88 come-from-behind win over the Orlando Magic in Game 5 at the Garden.
“I grew up watching Stephon Marbury,” Davis said. “And there’s no doubt, I know he can play this game. Everyone’s seen Stephon Marbury play this game. He’s just got to get into the rhythm and the flow of our team. It’s hard to come from a (place) where he dominated the ball when he played as a star in this league and to come to where there’s a system and you’ve got to pass and create.”
Marbury scored 12 points in 14 minutes and helped the Celtics finally find their groove against an Orlando defense that looked solid, if not dominant, for three quarters.
Many had wondered if Marbury, signed in February to add some depth to the Celtics bench, would ever pay dividends. On Tuesday, they got their answer. Marbury turned into Starbury and scored all 12 of his points in the key fourth-quarter rally and finally showed he felt comfortable.
“When I got into the game, I knew that Paul (Pierce) had just kicked me out 2 shots that I missed then I came right back out and I knew I was ready for those shots but I didn’t make them, so when I went back into the game I was locked in on when they left me wide open and knocked down that shot,” Marbury said.
Glen Davis, of course, has played his own huge role in leading the Celtics back to the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals. He hit the shot at the end of Game 4 that turned a potential 3-1 hole into a 2-2 series deadlock. He also hit two big buckets in Boston’s 13-0 run at the end of Game 5 Tuesday.
But Davis points out that without Marbury, there is no run because there was no energy among the Celtics when they were down 77-63 with 9:29 remaining. With 11:22 to go, Celtics coach Doc Rivers inserted Marbury for Ray Allen. He stayed in the game until Rajon Rondo subbed for him with 4:55 to go and the Celtics in the midst of their run.
“I’m happy for him, too, because you know he played a great half the other night,” Rivers said. “I didn’t play him in the second half. He’s been great for us. I mean, he just hangs in there, keeps working every day. He’s been very patient. This is tough for him. He’s never been taken out to put starters him. That’s always been him going in, and he’s been able to handle it well and be a great teammate. So, I’m just happy for him. I really am.”
“Doc has done a great job of letting Steph get into the flow and letting him do his thing and that’s what he’s supposed to do with the second string, is create his offense, create for different people and be a team player,” Davis said.
“Stephon Marbury led the charge in the second half, and made some things happen, and that energy fed me, you know I made some shots, and it fed off of everybody, you know, and that’s what it’s all about. You know, things weren’t going right, and we’re looking for an answer, you know, that’s one of the parts of the definition of Ubuntu, you know, you help others, and motivate others, and that’s what Stephon Marbury did and that’s what we all did as a collective group at the end of it,” Davis concluded.
When he wasn’t defending himself against the post-game criticism from Dwight Howard, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy called Marbury the difference in the game.
“He was great,” Van Gundy said. “We were trying to do a lot of helping and double teaming off the point guards and I thought it was pretty effective in limiting Pierce a little bit, but Marbury really made us pay and made some jump shots, hit the three, hasn’t been a guy who’s made a lot of threes, but hit a huge one. It’s the same thing that they were trying to do to us last game. You’re trying to help on certain guys, and leaving certain guys open, and Stephon stepped up and made very, very big shots. I think he was really the key to the game.”
Marbury’s three with 8:31 remaining started the Celtics on their comeback.
“I mean, it felt good because, one, we needed it and the timing was right,” Marbury said. “It was right for me to go in and do what I did for us to win the basketball game. When I got into the game my mindset was to go into the game and try to create something where we can change the flow of the game.”
Maybe the key to Marbury’s success is that he never lost any confidence in himself. And now, as he showed Tuesday, he feels ready to help the Celtics take another step in defending their title.
“I wouldn’t consider it being a monkey off my back because I’m playing basketball this year. So for me, that was enough from where I was to just being able to get back on the court after not playing a whole year. I’m blessed and I know that I’m blessed…I’m just happy that I have the opportunity to come out and help the Celtics win another championship,” Marbury said.