Seeing little Nate Robinson piggybacking a drooling Big Baby, both men primal screaming to the rafters, burned an indelible image into my brain that will never fade, no matter how many cocktails or prescription pills I ingest. I was simultaneously repulsed and delighted. In an already hideously fugly game, this moment was so brazenly fugly that it was...well, beautiful. Easily the moment of the Finals so far.
Led by the hulking Davis and the hyperactive Robinson, Boston scored 34 points in the 4th quarter to even this thing up. Now it�s a best-of-three with two in LA.
Make no mistake, this was a must win for Boston. They couldn�t go down 3-1 with the next two out of three on the road. A case could be made that in every game this series, the team that had to win actually did. Think about it: LA had to win Game 1 or they lose home court. Boston had to win G2 to steal home court back. Ditto for LA in G3. And now Boston had to win G4 because, in all likelihood, they couldn�t win two in a row in Staples. Following that theory, G5 is also a must win for Boston.
And I�m sorry but I have to trot this tired clich� out there: Boston wanted it more. They were more physical, more active, more desperate. Most of the night, the Lakers seemed content to take long jumpers and complain to the refs. Is this the product of having a comfortable series lead? Probably.
In this back and forth battle between two evenly matched teams, G4 also provided some interesting new developments.
The game started with Paul Pierce handling the ball more up top. This gave him more room to escape the greedy clutches of Ron Artest. It also took the ball out of the hands of Rajon Rondo, the Celtic Phil Jackson fears most. Speaking of Rondo, that gangly Martian is now 4-15 from the FT line in the Finals. Shaq would be ashamed. And I'm tired of the "his hands are too big" argument. Amare Stoudemire is 80% from the line. Yao Ming is 80% from the line. Rondo is simply a bad FT shooter who needs a lot more practice. Stop blaming the hands.
For the Lakers, Andrew Bynum�s balky knee remains a dilemma. He played sparingly and when he was on the court, he could barely get off the ground. How he heals (or doesn�t heal) could determine who wins this thing. When Pau Gasol is forced into being The Big Man, the Lakers drift into �soft� territory again.
Ron Artest continued to provide unintentional comedy with his horrendous offense. At one point, Ron Ron bricked a jumper so badly that Mike Breen guffawed �Way off!� In that instant, I decided that I would only refer to him as Way Off Artest from now on.
And where was Luke Walton? After playing really well in G3, Luke didn�t get off the bench at all. During the brilliant Baby/Nate Show in the 4th, the team could�ve really used his savvy out there.
To the surprise of nobody, the referees were pretty bad. Again. Rasheed Wallace, in particular, was the victim of some heinous whistles. Derek Fisher, the Lakers best player in the series so far, got his 2nd foul early for basically getting trampled by Pierce.
But this wasn�t a game about refs. Or Kobe Bryant. Or Kevin Garnett. Or any of the marquee names we�re so used to hearing. This was a game about Davis and Robinson. For three quarters, I felt like I was watching the Spurs/Cavs. The game was that bad. Then the little, big man and the big, little man came to the rescue.
Pictured: short bus