The Los Angeles Lakers had to rely on their unsung reserves to halt a late rally from the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in the fourth game of the NBA play-off final.
Shaquille O'Neal was his usual marvellous self, but it was the veterans Ron Harper, Brian Shaw and Robert Horry and the youngster Tyronn Lue who got the job done.
The 76ers scored 13 straight points, including the first 11 of the fourth quarter, to cut the Lakers' lead to 77-70 before the four substitutes and O'Neal teamed up to secure a 100-86 victory. The win puts the Lakers 3-1 up in the series and one win away from retaining their championship. They fifth game is tonight in Philadelphia. The final two games, if needed, are in Los Angeles next week.
"We're feeling good," said Harper, who has become a seldom-used reserve after missing the final two months of the season with a knee injury. "The main thing is, we've got one win to go."
The Lakers' first choice guard Kobe Bryant added: "Our bench gets motivated by people saying that we don't have a bench. They came in and did an excellent job for us."Reuse content