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Dan Shaughnessy

Imposing man, even bigger shot

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / May 11, 2009
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ORLANDO, Fla. - It's the one you shoot in the driveway every day when you are a kid. The shot you always take in the mind games of youth.

You feather your way into the corner while the imaginary clock winds down. You count down . . . three . . . two . . . one as you take the pass from out top.

And then you let it fly and you make the sound of the imaginary buzzer as the ball splashes through the bottom of the net.

You do this even if you are a big fella and everybody wants you to play close to the basket. You do it because it's fun and you want the ball at the end of the game. You pretend you are Larry Bird, even if you are 6 feet 9 inches, 289 pounds and you are standing on the court with gunslingers named Pierce, Allen, and House.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis's 21-foot jumper beat the Magic, 95-94, as the horn blared in Amway Arena last night.

The shot decided the game. Plain and simple. Miss and the Celtics are down, 3-1. Make and it's 2-2 coming back to Boston.

Baby went into Muhammad Ali overdrive after draining the shot.

"You better know about me!" he screamed to Magic fans in the section behind the Celtics' bench.

"It's what I work on all the time," he said later, in a more composed moment. "It was just a feeling. I knew, 'Hey, you've got to shoot this.' When I shot it, I didn't even hesitate. It was just a feel.

"You always envision hitting the game-winning shot."

This was the gut-check game we've all been waiting for in the Celtics-Magic series. If you closed your eyes and blocked out the yahoos, you could almost pretend you were in Chicago. It was a game with 16 ties and 17 lead changes - none bigger than the final one.

It was a night when the Celtics reminded all that they are the defending NBA champs.

That's right, people. Even though it seems like the crown already has been placed on the head of King LeBron James in Cleveland, there's still some basketball to be played and NBA wannabes are going to have to pass through Causeway Street to wrest the title from Paul Pierce and friends.

"They're the champions and they know how to play in big situations," said Orlando Superman Dwight Howard.

It was appropriate that Sam Jones witnessed last night's Green Team victory. Sam was the Celtics' old guard when the Old Guard Celtics won the final championship of the Russell era in the spring of 1969. The final game against the Lakers was the final game of Sam's career as the aging Celtics - a team that finished fourth in their division - found glory one last time.

Nobody's giving these Celtics a chance to repeat, not with Kevin Garnett dressed in Armani, but in Game 4 they served notice that it's not over yet. They went back to their Belichickian defensive ways, holding the Magic (117 points in Game 3) to 94 points on 40 percent shooting.

There are times when you look out on the court and wonder how the Celtics are still playing this late in the spring. KG is gone and Leon Powe is gone and Kendrick Perkins's left shoulder is hurting again. All the depth of the old days is gone. Boston's bench scored 2 points in Game 4. Davis was the only Boston player to score in the last 3:52.

How are they doing it?

"Determination, heart, discipline," said coach Doc Rivers. "I thought we really dug deep. Huge game for us. Going down, 3-1, would have been very difficult. But we've got a lot of basketball left in this series."

Ray Allen played 47 minutes. Rajon Rondo played 42 and Perkins 40. Pierce and Brian Scalabrine both had five fouls at the finish.

But, at the end of the night, all the light was on Davis.

"Baby was relaxed and stepped up and made the shot," said Perkins. "You don't want to go down, 3-1. We worked too hard the whole game."

"I love our momentum going into the next game," said Baby. "We're going back home. Our fans. The energy and momentum we have is unbelievable."

He had a few more words for those who would make fun of his girth.

"I believe on sticking with the bread and butter," said Davis. "As long as y'all knew me, - LSU, Final Four - I've been this big. I work on what Doc wants me to work on, whether pushing away from the dinner table or hitting jump shots. The man knows what he's talking about.

"A guy was on me before the game, like, 'You're 289, I don't believe it, you're like 389.' Everywhere you go, people joke about it, but I'm here to play basketball no matter how big I am."

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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