Subs knew time to come to the surface

By Bob Hohler
Globe Staff / June 11, 2010

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Everybody knew how to save the Celtics.

Find a way for Paul Pierce to be The Truth again.

Summon greatness again from Kevin Garnett.

Ray Allen? Well, he needed to be the second coming of Jesus Shuttlesworth, not Mr. 0 for 13.

KG himself thought he had the answer to the Celtics’ woes: The Big Three needed to play well together for the first time in the 2010 NBA Finals, he said in the run-up to Game 4 last night at TD Garden.

As it turned out, everybody was wrong, the Big Ticket included.

What the Celtics really needed to save their season, it turned out, was the B team. The boys on the bench. The energy guys who jolted the Lakers with a fourth-quarter burst that turned a 62-60 deficit into a series-tying 96-89 victory and, for at least one night, made the Celtics’ second team the toast of the town.

“The story was all about our bench, man,’’ Pierce said after Glen Davis and his buddies gave Boston’s aging stars front-row seats to a four-star performance. “I’m not going to take nothing away from them. They came out and got the job done.’’

There was nothing rare about coach Doc Rivers sending out Ray Allen, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, and Tony Allen to start the fourth quarter. If history was a guide, most of them would soon depart, clearing the way for the Big Three and Co. to attack the Lakers down the stretch.

But as time passed and the Boston bench pulled further away from the Lakers, Rivers kept his stars grounded. In the end, the Celtics’ bench outscored their counterparts, 36-18, and made all the difference as the Green outpointed the Lakers, 36-27, in the fourth quarter.

Eight minutes into the final quarter, Rivers ordered Pierce and Garnett to the scorer’s table to enter the game, only to call them back.

“[I] told them to go sit down,’’ Rivers said. “It was a scoring matter for me. All I was doing was looking at the score.’’

And the bench guys were scoring, led in the quarter by Davis with 9. Robinson added 6, with Wallace and Tony Allen chipping in 3 apiece. They all played at least nine minutes of the final quarter.

“It was just their whole energy,’’ Rivers said. “I thought we were lacking that in one stretch, and they came in. Nate, and Tony Allen was phenomenal with his energy. Baby was phenomenal. Rasheed was unbelievable. I thought the entire bench unit with Ray, they were great.’’

The results were particularly gratifying for the bench guys. None of them is The Truth. But together they were The Answer.

“Doc had trust in us and he rode with us, and we definitely took advantage of that opportunity,’’ said Tony Allen, who converted a 3-point play when he was fouled on a layup to give the Celtics an 8-point lead with less than eight minutes to play.

“There is definitely more to be done,’’ Allen continued. “We don’t want to get complacent. We know there are three more games and we’re definitely going to have to bring that same kind of energy to Game 5.’’

Wallace, who sank a deep 3-pointer to stretch Boston’s lead to 9 points midway through the final quarter, understood why some so-called experts were surprised by the bench’s role in the victory.

“It’s real unusual,’’ Wallace said, “but everybody on the team knows that Doc has confidence in them, as far as the second unit goes.’’

There was no mystery to explain their performance, Wallace said.

“You got guys who are hungry,’’ he said, “and that’s what happens.’’

Robinson was tickled by the opportunity and the outcome.

“I just want to bring energy,’’ he said. “The more energy I bring, the more I get the crowd involved, [and] my teammates. The sky’s the limit. I just love bringing the energy.’’

Davis, of course, was the headliner, his performance unrivaled among the second unit. And he was grateful for the chance.

“I want to give Doc a hug, man,’’ he said. “I love Doc.’’

“Tell him, ‘Thank you,’ ’’ Robinson said.

Bob Hohler can be reached at

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