by Tzvi Twersky

11:38 PM: Rajon Rondo with the steal! Folks, this game is over. 92-86 with 20 ticks left. Ben Osborne will be live blogging Game 5, and Lang will be back in L.A. Why will he be back in L.A.? Because this is going back to Cali, Cali. (H/T Marcel M.) It’s been real, people. See you on back on SLAMonline soon…

11:36 PM: Celtics need to start bleeding clock. L.A. needs points.

11:33 PM: Under three to go, Rasheed Wallace is still in for Boston. For L.A., Odom is the lone sub on the court.

11:30 PM: I wish you all could be here in the arena tonight. It’d make all you haters into believers. If you didn’t like the NBA, being at this game would convert you into a fan.

11:27 PM: Big Baby Davis just employed the Antoine Walker shimmy after that freebie rattled in.

11:24 PM: Nate Robinson with the bucket. If he could, he’d pat himself on the back right now. He’s very happy with himself, as are the fans. Way to redeem yourself after a terrible three two possessions back. Meanwhile, Tony Allen is really guarding Kobe chest-to-chest. Interestingly enough, refs are keeping the whistles in their pockets.

11:21 PM: I need to verify this, but it’s very likely that the T tonight was Rasheed’s sixth this postseason. If that’s the case, as it is for Kendrick Perkins, he will be suspended for a game if he picks up another tech.

11:18 PM: Nate Robinson just got T’d up, joining Rasheed Wallace who picked one up a few minutes back. These guys need to keep their cool, or Kobe and Co. will make ‘em pay.

11:15 PM: Kobe relishes the role of villain. Crowd chants “Kobe Sucks!” and he just smiles. Does he actually love it, or does he have no other choice since most people will hate on him no matter what he does?

11:13 PM: Tony Allen with the and-one! Of all of the people! The C’s bench has contributed 24 points and excellent energy tonight. Meanwhile, Lakers bench combined to score 14 points so far. Will we see the starting 10 to end the game?

11:10 PM: Davis just drooled all over himself like, well, a Big Baby.

11:08 PM: I counted four bodies. Four bodies that just to grab a ball. That’s hustle. This game is great. And with another two buckets since my comment, Big Baby is on the verge of going down as an all-time clutch Celtic.

11:05 PM: As my boy just texted me: “If KryptoNate stops KryptoShooting so often he and the Celts would be better off.”

11:04 PM: Over the last three games, Big Baby’s really stepped his game up. And to think he was once a second round selection.

11: 00 PM: Some fan got on Kobe’s nerves. He’s hit his last two shots from same wing, and has turned around mouthed something back at dude in the front row. Also, Sheed has a bad case of the fours: He’s 0-4 from the field, -4 in +/- and he has four fouls. Dunno what it means, but it ain’t good.

10:56 PM: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many three-second violations called in one series, let alone a single game.

10:52 PM: The scoring has all but stopped here. Ray Allen’s partially to blame for that–he’s stealing dimes from Rondo like I used to do Tzedaka boxes.

10:51 PM: I’d like to file a missing persons report. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Michael Finley, Marquis Daniels? Sasha Vujacic or DJ Mbenga? They seem to be missing.

10:50 PM: This needs to be written: Celtics dancers>Lakers Dancers. Don’t believe me, ask the players.

10:45 PM: Celtics go ahead for the first time in forever, and Kobe, obviously answers with a dagger of his own. But unlike last game, Ray answered kobe’s answer. The only Answer missing is Allen Iverson. Where do you think he is right now? A strip club, bar or chilling with his friends and family? None of those three would surprise me.

10:43 PM: Crowd is sooo looouuuddd right now. They also get extra loud after KG makes a solid play. Is that because he’s their favorite player, or because they’re so glad he’s contributing? I mean, two years ago, the answer is the former. Now…

10:39 PM: Derek Fisher just made two nice shots in a short span. Crowd held its breath after the second one. Is it possible he’ll resume the role of “superhero” again tonight?

10:36 PM: Rondo has eight points, three boards and an assist. He needs to step his game up.

10:33 PM: I’m convinced that the fans here dislike Gasol more than they do Bryant. As he shot two free throws they chanted, “U-S-A, U-S-A!” Gearing up for the World Cup, I guess.

10:28 PM: I’m backkkk. Just had a nice convo with Scoop. He dropped one gem. Speaking about the first half: “Hey, at least no one is talking about the refs right now.” (Also, mentioning writers, spoke with Marc Heisler and Jack McCallum as well tonight. Between those two and Scoop, I feel like I’ve spent the day in the sports writers hall of fame.)

10:08 PM AKA Halftime: That. Was. Hella. First half. And it ended on a perfect note–a KG buzzer beater. People, do not go to sleep before this game ends. It has the potential to be the best game of the series yet, and that’s saying something. 45-42, L.A. at the break.

10:04 PM: Ahhh. The first “Bullsh!t” chant of the night. The game has now officially begun.

10:03 PM: That KG and-one was reminiscent of the KG we used to watch.

10:02 PM: The Lakers are shooting 50 percent from the field thus far. The Celtics? 37.5.

9:57 PM: Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce both came to play tonight. Finally, finally, this this resembles the 2008 Finals, in that KB and PP are dominating.

9:53 PM: Boston’s bench is holding it down, letting the startes grab nice rests. Nate, Rasheed and Baby are all balling. So not only are the C’s in the game now, but this ensures they’ll be able to hang on late, too. (Or, at least, the startes should be fresh late.)

9:49 PM: Kobe Bryant just had Nate Robinson on him, yet he failed to take advantage of it. The only guard greater than him, MJ, would’ve posted little man up.

9:42 PM: Shannon Brown just hit a tough fadeaway J from the corner. He’s learning from his sensei (Kobe).

9:38 PM: Nate Robinson hits another three! Shorty is en fuego!

9:34 PM: It’s 19-16 after one. That’s by far the lowest scoring first quarter of the series.

9:33 PM: Pau Gasol just executed the world class World Cup flop to perfection. Sign him up, Spain. He’s ready.

9:29 PM: Rondo just made the type of move that only four or five guards IN THE WORLD, have the quicks and body control to pull off. With a minute to go in the first, Celtics are up by two, and it feels like they should be losing. If this holds up, we have a classic game in the works.

9:27 PM: Ben Collins is killing ‘em on SLAM’s Twitter: “#menshouldnt go 1 for their last 17 (Ray). #menshould go 4 of 6 tonight (Pierce). #catsshouldremain adorable.”

9:22 PM: I don’t know when exactly it happened, but KG went from being among the League’s top rebounders into being one of the worst rebounding 6-11/7-0′s in the L. In other news, I dunno when it happened, but Ray Allen left his stroke back on the Sunny Coast. In other news, Paul Pierce has finally joined the party. I wonder, though: Are the Big Three like Superman and Clarke Kent? They can’t all show up in the same place at the same time?

9: 20 PM: A lot of people are saying the Celtic’s hopes rest on Rajon Rondo’s shoulders. Well, after a little seven minutes, he has zero points, one assist and two boards.

9:15 PM: The crowd, and those of you at home, should be happy with that Rondo jumper. Even though he missed, he showed a lot of confidence in taking it. They’re gonna need that tonight from him.(Dope comment, J! I’m not sure anyone has to get in foul trouble. That’s not actually a written rule, even though it’s felt that way so far this series.)

9:14 PM: KG just hit Paul Pierce with the perfect no-look dish. Next time down court, he followed it up with a J. Suffice to say, The Kid is back in Boston, or at least something close to it (If you ask me, he never even made the trip to L.A.)

9:12 PM: Ok, now the crowd is into the game. Loud enough in here to make your head hurt. Literally every single play, the crowd either “ooohs” or “ahhhhs.”

9:10 PM: Ray Allen scores on a layup, and the crowd goes wild! They’ll react like that after an 0-13 night.

9:07 PM: 48 hours later, Game 4 begins. Unfortunately for Boston fans, it begins with a Kobe Bryant jumper.

9:04 PM: Garden is nowhere near as loud as it was in Game 3.

9:02 PM: Kenny Anderson is the man on Twitter. Check what he just said: “Damn Cee’s have dancers now? Red is turning in his grave!”

8:59 PM: Sincere thanks for being here with me tonight. If you mess with Twitter, Ben Collins will be holding SLAM’s account down. Check us out in one or both places!

8:55 PM: Anita Baker sang the National Anthem. Susan, who enjoys the Anthem almost as much as the game itself, just texted me: “oh, noooo…I do not like Anita. This isn’t boding well.”  And then: “I really don’t know what to say.” And finally: “Very. Out of tune.”

8:30 PM: Had to grab some food, work the crowd, watch warmups, hit the locker rooms and get up to my seat. But I’m back now and ready to roll.

Bumped into one of Rasheed Wallace’s sons in a back hallway. Started chatting him up about Philly. He awkwardly chatted for 30 seconds or so before walking away.  I’m glad he bounced quick. It mean his mom and dad taught him not to talk to strangers.

In Boston’s locker room, Nate Robinson and I picked up our Seattle vs. DMV conversation that we started yesterday. I told him that the DMV could throw out a starting five of Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. He wanted to know who would guard him. I pointed out that the bigger question is who would he guard?!? Also, as an aside, Nate started belting out song lyrics, the first line of which was, “I stick my dick in a ho.” I’m not familiar with that particular joint.

While still in the locker room, I checked up on Marquis Daniels. He was flipping through a magazine. I asked to see it. Turns out it was Urban Ink: “The Tattoo Magazine For People of Color.” Turns out, Ink recently featured Quis’ body art. I promised him I’d pick up a copy. We’ll see if that happens…

I mentioned this yesterday, but I’ll say it again: Tony Allen was really happy to be the featured SLAMadamonth in the current issue of SLAM (SLAM 140). Well, tonight I showed Rajon Rondo a copy of the mag, too, him being featured in it and all. He took the mag, promising to read it and give it back. Five minutes later, he came out of the bathroom without the mag. He said he gave it to Ray Allen, who had asked to see it. I was pretty happy to hear that. I’m glad that players enjoy reading SLAM. It validates all the work and effort. Anyway, I parlayed Rondo being happy with me into a two minute exclusive interview (and that’s a coup, if you know crowded media is at Finals).

Last thing for now: Just shared a dap and a couple stories with Scoop Jackson. He may not be with SLAM anymore, but he still keeps a close eye on his baby and its writers. Talented as a writer, dude is an even better person.

5:30 PM: I’m not into horticulture, but sitting in an empty garden is cathartic. Especially when the same garden will be packed with 20,000 people shortly.

The dimly lit lights overhead. The empty seats behind you. The faux parquet floor in front of you. The echoing of quiet all around you.

It’s conducive to thinking. It’s conducive to writing.

As I type this very paragraph, I’m courtside in the TD Garden—which, along with Madison Square, is the only garden I find soothing to hang in. In a few minutes the lights will warm up and come to life, the music will start, the dancers will begin their warm up routine and Ray Allen will start putting up shots. For now, though, it’s still just me and the Garden.

So as long as I’m sitting here thinking, let me put a couple of my thoughts on the record:

1) Bob Ryan was on ESPN today. At one point during his analysis of the series, Ryan was asked what adjustments Boston needs to make to come back in the series. I found his response to be interesting. To paraphrase Ryan, “I don’t know if there is any one adjustment they can make. It may just be that the Big Three are a little too old and tired.” At the time, I thought his words to be brilliant. Then I remembered: isn’t that the same thing everyone said about Boston all year? That the Big Three were too old, too tired, too worn down? Truth is, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are all of the above. But they also have too much heart, too much desire and too much invested in this team to go down to the Lakers like a bunch of punks. A few days ago Paul Pierce said that the series would end here. Yesterday, Jordan Farmar said that very well may happen. I say, no. This series is headed back to L.A. for a Game 6 on Tuesday.

2) Jackson. Doc. Garnett. Everyone is unhappy with the referees this series. I, too, don’t think they’ve done an adequate job. If the refs don’t pick their game up to a championship level tonight, and if the Lakers are beating the Celtics lates, I think we could see a skirmish or two occur on the court. In terms of the refs, the frustration level on both teams is high. It’ll only take a small spark to start a brushfire tonight.