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GAME 4: CELTICS 97, LAKERS 91

Bench won this game for Celtics

Boston's reserves, led by House, Posey and Brown, outscored the Lakers reserves, 35-15, and made several key baskets down the stretch.

June 13, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

The Bench Mob?

How about the Green Berets?

The Celtics reserves again outplayed the Lakers' bench Thursday, swarming and scoring their way to 35 points in Game 4 and bringing the Celtics to the brink of restoring its franchise luster with their first championship in more than two decades

Their counterparts, dressed in the purple and gold, were left black and blue.

They scored 20 points fewer than Boston's bench and put up a goose egg in the second half, a sheepish outcome to a pivotal evening.

Boston's bench consists largely of crafty and tested veterans. They are experienced when they produce; old when they don't.

They were indispensable Thursday.

Especially in pushing the Celtics to rally back from the Lakers' early lead.

"It was like, keep chopping," eight-year veteran guard Eddie House said. "Let's just do it. Try to cut it to 10. In that third quarter, we cut it to two and we were looking at going into that fourth quarter with a chance to win the game.

"We were right where we wanted to be."

There was James Posey, one of only two players on the Celtics to have already won an NBA championship, scoring 18 points and making half of his team's eight three-point baskets.

His three-pointer from the corner with only 1:13 remaining was arguably the game's biggest shot.

There was House, overlooked earlier in the series, providing instant offense with 11 points off the bench.

His 18-foot jumper with 4:07 left gave the Celtics their first lead of the game and they never let it go.

And there was P.J. Brown, the veteran and consummate professional, not doing anything eye popping in the box score but finding his way to loose balls and clogging lanes with his interior defense.

When Leon Powe barreled his way off the Celtics' bench to pump in 21 points in Boston's Game 2 win, it was largely a solo-sub effort.

Thursday, it was more of a group gathering.

"This is a team," Brown said. "I know the Big Three is the focus of our team and it should be. We can't win without them. But our bench, they've done a great job all year."

And never so much as on Thursday.

They were integral in scratching, clawing and finally overcoming a 24-point deficit.

"We've still got another game," said Powe, adding that he could not recall ever coming back from a deficit so large.

"A loss like this, for them, maybe it will break their heart."

--

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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