Davis battles through illness to lead C's

BOSTON -- Maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise to find Pedialyte in the locker of a guy who goes by the nickname "Big Baby."

Regardless, Glen Davis had been chugging the stuff for two days hoping to get on the court Wednesday when his Celtics hosted the Denver Nuggets at the TD Garden. Battling a stomach flu, Davis hadn't stepped on a basketball court since Sunday's game in New Jersey and was sent home from practice Tuesday -- in part to not infect his teammates -- after exhibiting a fever that reached nearly 103 degrees, leaving him questionable for game action.

"I woke up this morning not feeling too well," said Davis, admitting he wasn't sure if he would play Wednesday. "I was light-headed a little bit. I took a little bit of Advil and I felt better. I got home [from shootaround], drank some more Pedialyte and ate a little bit and I was sitting there thinking, 'Should I play or should I not play?'

Davis didn't just play, he contributed 16 points off the bench, while grabbing six rebounds, registering three steals, and absorbing three charges over 26 minutes, 35 seconds of action as Boston emerged with a 105-89 triumph.

Dressing at his locker following the game, a bottle of orange Pedialyte sat in his stall. Twelve more ounces of electrolytes to ensure he'd be back on the court Thursday night for the second half of Boston's back-to-back in Philadelphia.

"I drank about four gallons [of Pedialyte]," Davis said with a smile. "Four gallons of Big Baby Pedialyte. Big Baby for the Baby; I drink my own juice."

Davis could still laugh on a night that ended with tempers flaring as he and Denver's Nene were whistled for double technicals in the final minutes of the fourth quarter (Davis took exception to getting hit with an elbow and told the "out of control" Nene to be more careful).

Davis had looked weary before Wednesday's game, and even more-so when he did an on-court interview at halftime. He could have easily blamed his illness for struggles endured by the second team, which fumbled away a 19-point, first-quarter lead, allowing Denver to make a game of it (at least until late in the third quarter when Boston again pulled away).

Instead, Davis took his medicine and blamed himself for not getting the most out of the second unit.

"I didn't lead the second team enough to keep that lead," said Davis. "When I notice things like that, I need to adjust; I need to motivate because I'm the guy that makes the second team go.

"Me being the sixth man coming off the bench, I'm there with the first team, but I have to somehow, someway get the same momentum from the first team and get it to transfer to the second team. I'm that connection to the second team."

Davis shouldn't be too hard on himself. He did more than could have been expected, even if his shot didn't always fall (he finished 4-of-10 from the field). He got to the line for 12 attempts (making 8), forced three steals, and drew three more charges (adding Al Harrington, J.R. Smith, and Ty Lawson to the Baby List), causing three more turnovers by the Nuggets. He finished plus-9 in plus/minus on a night when the only other bench player in the positive was Semih Erden (plus-2).

What's more, it wasn't blocked shots contributing to his off-shooting night, which is actually an encouraging sign. Davis led the league last season with an astounding 17.9 percent of his shots blocked (the result of playing the center spot with Boston's addition of Rasheed Wallace).

Entering Wednesday's game, that percentage had dipped all the way to 5.5 percent and Davis is now more likely to end up at the line than chasing a blocked attempt.

"He's finishing a lot better," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He gets in stages where he tries to draw fouls and we tell him to just make the [opposing] big do his job. If he's going to block his shot, let him block the shot; Just try to make the basket. Last year, the double-pump or he was falling backwards trying to draw a foul that no ref was going to call. This year, he's going in hard, through people, trying to make the layup and, if they call it, then it's a three-point play."

Not only is Davis getting more whistles because of his gritty play around the rim, he's getting them on the defensive end thanks in part to his league-best 25 charges taken. Davis wasn't even set when Smith got whistled for a third-quarter offensive foul, but those are the breaks you catch when others know your penchant for giving up your body.

Davis smiled when a reporter suggested that, with all these charges, he needed to ink a sponsorship deal with the likes of VISA or MasterCard. No, he's more focused on solving what ails the second team and taking some of the stress out of these games.

At least when he's not chugging another bottle of Pedialyte.

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.