Celtics’ Powe makes a name for himself

Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The time is now when scrubs become stars, nobodies become somebodies and no namers become A-listers.

Now, apparently, is also the time for the power of Powe.

Leon Powe, that is, and the Lakers will surely remember his name come Tuesday’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Powe etched his name into the long-standing rivalry between the two teams, coming off the bench and scoring 21 points in just under 15 minutes in a Game 2 that swings all the momentum that was to be had clearly and decidedly toward Celtics green.


And it wasn’t just the fact that Powe scored.

He did so in a demoralizing, bruising and back-breaking fashion.

Inside early and often, Powe was sent to the foul line with the Lakers hacking the aggressive, second-year forward.

After missing his first two free throws, Powe calmed himself into finishing the first half six of nine from there and nine for 13 in the game.

The attempts were more than the Lakers team -- a discrepancy a not-too-happy Lakers Coach Phil Jackson bemoaned afterward.

Then, in the second half when the court opened up, so did Powe. The lane “was pretty open,” Powe acknowledged. And so he took it.

He continually bullied his way past Luke Walton, and by the time he cruised in for a coast-to-coast dunk in the fourth quarter, the frenzied crowd at TD Banknorth Garden had long been chanting “Leon Powe,” over and over.

Powe’s star turn comes after a long and winding journey, in this postseason and his life.

When Powe was 7, his family’s house in Oakland burned down and they were left homeless or living in rundown motels for years.

Always a man playing among boys, he led Oakland Tech High to consecutive CIF state championship appearances and then signed with UC Berkeley.

There, after a solid freshman season, he injured his knee and redshirted his next year. He declared for the NBA draft after his sophomore season and was buried on the Celtics bench much of 2006-07.

Despite some impressive moments this regular season, his playoff high was only 12 points, and Celtics Coach Rivers opted not to play him at all in three postseason games.

“I’ve got a job to do for this team,” Powe said. “Whenever Doc calls on me, it’s my job to go out there and produce, be a constant professional.”

He is now a large reason why his team can fly to Los Angeles up 2-0 in the Finals.

“I was just happy to get in the game and just happy to be a part of this whole experience, because it’s been a long journey for me,” he said.