BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have tied up the NBA finals, and they owe it more to "Big Baby" than the Big Three.
Backup Glen Davis scored half of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Celtics bench as Boston pulled away from the Los Angeles Lakers to win 96-89 on Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
Game 5 is Sunday night in Boston. The Celtics' win guaranteed them a trip back to Los Angeles and averted a 3-1 deficit that has never been overcome in NBA finals history.
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Pau Gasol had 21 for the Lakers.
Paul Pierce scored 19 points, Kevin Garnett had 13 and Ray Allen bounced back from a seven-quarter shooting slump to score 12 points for Boston.
But the new Big Three that led the Celtics to their 17th NBA title in 2008 — beating the Lakers in the finals — was on the bench for much of the fourth-quarter run that gave Boston the lead for good.
"I don't think guys really care and that's why we're here, it really is," Boston Coach Doc Rivers said of playing time. "... It was great, you know. That's the loudest I've seen our bench, the starters cheering from the bench. It was terrific."
Bryant hit three straight three-pointers to give the Lakers a 62-58 lead with 1:25 left in the third. Davis' putback left the Celtics trailing by two points heading into the final quarter, and he scored underneath on a reverse layup in the opening minute of the fourth to tie it.
"Just will, that's all it is," Davis said. "They're long, you just have to go out there and put a body on someone and make sure they don't touch the ball.
"This is what legends are made of, this is where you grasp the moment. ... Just play in the moment."
Gasol made a basket to give L.A. the lead — its last of the game — before Allen scored, Davis followed, Allen made another basket and Davis followed with a three-point play that made it 71-64 with 8:22 left.
In all, the Celtics scored 13 of 15 points during a five-minute span when Allen was the only starter on the court, mostly with Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nate Robinson and Tony Allen. Robinson scored 12 points in 17 minutes as the Celtics' bench outscored the Lakers' 36-18; Odom had 10 of L.A.'s points, playing 39 minutes after starting center Andrew Bynum tested his sore knee but did not play in the second half.