By Steve Ginsburg
Burly Glen Davis came off the bench to score 18 points and grab five rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 96-89 victory over the Lakers on Thursday and even the NBA Finals at 2-2.
The 24-year-old roared at the crowd after several of his more memorable shots, laughed with team mates during the game and had a playful repartee with reporters afterward.
"He's matured more than anything, and he's still maturing," Boston coach Doc Rivers said on Friday. "He still has a ways to go. But he's becoming more comfortable in his own skin.
Davis got into an altercation while out with a childhood friend in October and broke his thumb. He missed the first two months of the season after surgery and a Celtics suspension.
Even when Davis returned to the team he was not immediately sent into games, forced instead to watch from the bench.
"In some ways, it may have helped him understand that he had to mature now ... he also understood that the team was not going to wait for him. We were going to move on," said Rivers.
"He still has his days, and we laugh, but he did earn the name Big Baby, and it wasn't from his size. But he's growing up as a guy in front of our eyes, and it's nice."
Davis played 22 minutes on Thursday, a rare long spell for the 6-foot-9 (2.06m), 289-pound (131 kg) three-year NBA veteran out of Louisiana State.
Rivers knows when he calls on his reserves something is going to happen.
"We call them the emotional group because they are, and on nights when their emotions and the stars and the moons are aligned right, they can be really effective," said Rivers.
"When they play hard and with that much intensity, something is going to happen. We don't know if it's good or bad. But something is going to happen."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)