ORLANDO, May 11 – Glen Davis's buzzer-beating jump shot lifted National Basketball Association champions Boston to a 95-94 victory over Orlando Sunday in their Eastern Conference semi-final playoff series.With the victory, the Celtics knotted the best-of-seven series at two games apiece, with game five on Tuesday in Boston.
Taking a pass from Paul Pierce, Davis drained the game-winner. As he was surrounded by celebrating teammates at midcourt, officials reviewed the shot to be sure he released the ball in time.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said his players executed the final play just as he had intended, taking the ball out of the hands of Celtics stars Pierce and Ray Allen.
But Davis came through.
"They had to have the patience to go all the way to their last option," Van Gundy said in tribute to Boston. "Glen Davis is a great shooter."
"I was just doing my assignment, being ready to shoot," said "Big Baby" Davis, who replaced Kevin Garnett when the All-Star suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Later, he basked modestly in the post-game attention.
"This is really neat," he said. "This is my first time, so bear with me."
When Davis’s shot swished through the net, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said didn’t have time to gauge his player’s reaction.
"I didn’t see his emotions," Rivers said. "I was having an emotional highjack at the moment myself."
Davis finished with 21 points, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Boston, who were led by the 27 points of Pierce.
Dwight Howard finished with 23 points and a game-high 17 rebounds for Orlando. Rashard Lewis scored 22 points and Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus scored 11 apiece for the Magic.
The 13 first-half lead changes were a stark contrast to the last two games, in which first Boston and then Orlando led from start to finish.
And the drama continued right to the end.
Orlando trailed throughout the second half until Howard hit two free throws for a 92-91 lead.
Davis responded with a jump shot to put Boston up 93-92 with 32.5 seconds remaining. Lewis made two free throws to give the Magic a 94-93 lead with 11.3 seconds to play, but thanks to Davis, Boston avoided falling into a 1-3 series hole.
"It’s the best feeling in the world to me," Boston’s Kendrick Perkins said. "You don’t want to go down 3-1 to a good team like the Magic. We worked so hard the whole game. Defensively, we grinded. We stuck together."
Boston have already been through a thrilling seven-game first-round series against Chicago that included seven overtime periods. They survived two seven-game series en route to the championship last season.
Pierce, for one, said the nail-biters never bother him.
"This is great," he said. "It was a rollercoaster last year, and we want to take the same ride."