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Unlikely hero Powe-rs Celtics to victory

Reserve foward scores 21 points for win over Los Angeles

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce is fouled with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, left, and Sasha Vujacic defend in G...

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce is fouled with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter as Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, left, and Sasha Vujacic defend in G...

Leon Powe, as unlikely a hero as the National Basketball Association Finals ever produced, came off the bench to score 21 points Sunday, lifting the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 24-year-old reserve forward capped a key 15-2 run with a series of slam dunks, jammed in a spectacular leaping dunk in the final minutes and helped rescue Boston from a late collapse for a 108-102 victory and a 2-0 series edge.
"It has been an unbelievable experience. I really can't explain it," Powe said. "Three or four months ago I was close to being out of this league and shutting the door for good.
"Now I'm in the NBA Finals, a dream I've had since I was a kid. To be able to come out and contribute on this level, it means a lot."
Powe, who averages 4.6 points in 12 minutes a game in the playoffs, hit 6-of-7 shots from the field and 9-of-13 from the free throw line to provide a Boston boost that has the Celtics halfway to their first title since 1986 in the best-of-seven showdown, which shifts to Los Angeles for game three tomorrow.
"I was happy for him and flying high with him," Celtics reserve P.J. Brown said. "It was a game of all games and it will be a game to remember. He deserves it. he's a good man and I'm sure he's got a few more left in him."
Powe's father left his family when he was two and at age seven, his family's apartment home in Oakland, California, burned down - leaving him homeless for several years before being taken from his mother and put into a foster home.
Powe's mother died days before he played for a California state high school title. Injuries have tested his resolve in college and the NBA. But Powe has remained steadfast.
"I'm just happy to be part of this whole experience because it has been a long journey for me," Powe said.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson mispronounced his name after the game, although given the impact he had, the punching sound "pow," rhyming with cow, might have been more on target than the proper "poe," rhyming with blow.
"I'm not worried about people pronouncing my name right," he said. "I ain't tripping on that."
Powe had eight points in the first half, seven more in the third quarter and six more in the last 12 minutes.
"I didn't think Leon was capable of doing that," admitted teammate Ray Allen.
The Lakers underestimated Powe as well, to their regret.
"You always try to rotate off the guy who is less dangerous by stats and career and everything, so we left him open a few times," Laker center Pau Gasol said. "Powe played really hard, took advantage of the opportunities he had."


Updated : 2021-02-27 09:36 GMT+08:00