First Posted: 5/11/2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Glen Davis never thought he could replace the “Big Ticket,” merely hoping to fill in for injured All-Star Kevin Garnett.
Known as “Big Baby” since his college days at LSU, Davis even teased that he was the “Ticket Stub” compared to Garnett.
Now he may have another nickname.
Davis made a 21-foot jumper as time expired to help the Boston Celtics hold off a furious rally and defeat the Orlando Magic 95-94 on Sunday night to even their Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
“Big-shot Baby Davis,” Orlando’s Dwight Howard said, shaking his head in disbelief.
Davis took the pass on the wing from Paul Pierce, made the jumper and ran to half-court. He was mobbed by teammates, waving his hands in the air and leaving the Orlando home crowd silenced, a play even he couldn’t have imagined until Garnett went down with a season-ending knee injury months ago.
“Every time I shoot, I kind of feel myself making game-winning shots all the time,” Davis said. “You always have to see it. If you see it, you will believe it.”
Believe this: The Celtics are back in the series.
Falling behind 3-1 would have been devastating for the defending champions. Only eight NBA teams have ever come back from that deficit.
Boston far outplayed Orlando for most of Game 4, shooting 52.8 percent from the floor compared to just 40 percent for the Magic. But without the final shot, an otherwise strong performance would have been a waste.
Davis’ jumper followed a pair of free throws by Rashard Lewis that put the Magic ahead with 11.3 seconds to play. Davis also hit a 15-foot jumper in the final minute and finished with 21 points.
Dwight Howard had 23 points and 17 rebounds, and Lewis scored 22 for the Magic. Game 5 is Tuesday in Boston.
“It’s going to be difficult,” Lewis said. “A lot of guys are upset in the locker room. But we can’t hang our heads too long.”
Perhaps the only downside on a series-changing win for Boston was that center Kendrick Perkins said he aggravated a left shoulder injury. He didn’t know when it happened and said he would have it evaluated Monday.
The Celtics went ahead by nine points with about five minutes remaining in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Pierce. Boston’s All-Star forward had 27 points, but would battle foul trouble the rest of the way, helping Orlando trim the lead slowly.
But it was the final play that changed the series.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said his players carried out the last play defensively exactly how he had designed, taking the ball out of the hands of Pierce and Ray Allen, and put the responsibility for his team’s failures on himself.
“The only guy who made a mistake on the last play was me,” Van Gundy said.
He’s got bigger concerns moving forward.
Orlando’s starting backcourt of Rafer Alston and J.J. Redick were downright dreadful. The pair combined to make just 2 of 14 shots from the floor, with the Celtics clogging the middle and practically daring them to shoot.
“You never want to turn down good shots,” Alston said. “I think if we make some of them, we can force them not to double-team Dwight.”
Van Gundy had cautioned his team about feeling satisfied with its Game 3 blowout victory, even reminding players with a message at the team’s practice facility that they were in the same position Philadelphia was in their first-round series. The 76ers went up 2-1, then lost in six games.
Davis’ shot now puts the Magic on the same path.
“It really hurts,” Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu said. “Especially this kind of a game. But no matter what, we still have to go up to Boston. We’re young. We’re hungry. We’ll bounce back strong.”