By Steve Ginsburg
BOSTON (Reuters) - Everyone seems to have a reason why Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher gets overlooked as one the NBA's elite guards.
"There's not enough ink space for him in the newspaper when you have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the other Laker starters," Hall of Famer John Havlicek told Reuters with a wink.
Fisher's tendency to come up big when it counts continued Tuesday when the 14-year NBA veteran scored 11 of his 16 points in the final period to lead the Lakers to a 91-84 victory over the Boston Celtics.
The triumph gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals and put Fisher and Bryant two wins away from their fifth championship ring.
Fisher opened the fourth quarter with an emotional speech to his team mates. He closed it with a thrilling three-point play that gave the Lakers an 87-80 lead with 48 seconds left.
"We play off each other extremely well. That's what he does. That's what he's been doing extremely well. He has a knack for saying the right thing at the right time."
Fisher and Bryant entered the league at the same time, are close friends, and are as good a backcourt duo as there is in the NBA. But their personalities are polar opposites.
Bryant can often be surly and abrasive while trying to get his team mates to play better, while the 35-year-old Fisher has a more constructive approach.
"Kobe jokingly refers to it as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King in terms of how we go about balancing it," Fisher said with a laugh. "I don't think it's necessarily him tearing guys up in a way that's demeaning or belittling to our guys on our team, but just a different style of communicating it."
Fisher joined the Lakers in 1996 but left in 2004 for the Golden State Warriors and then the Utah Jazz. He asked the Jazz to release him in 2007 so he could go to a city with the right mix of doctors to help his young daughter overcome eye cancer.
"Playing for the Lakers was a secondary part of moving back to Los Angeles," he said. "We were moving back to LA regardless of which team I played for.
"To be a part of the success that I've been a part of the three years I've been here, I couldn't have imagined.
"Any time I'm on a team, I expect to win, but getting Pau Gasol a few months later and the development of all of our great young players, it's hard to imagine that it was planned out.
"But, you know, I'm a believer in a higher power, and it's quite an interesting plan that He had."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)