BOSTON (CBS) — The pushing and shoving that went on late in the first half Wednesday night could hardly be considered a real fight, yet the incident has been referred to as a “fracas,” “fisticuffs” and “donnybrook” in headlines.
Despite the media’s assertion that the incident warranted such description, C’s head coach Doc Rivers felt otherwise.
“We didn’t come to play as a team. That was awful, basketball-wise,” Rivers said. “If I’m Brooklyn and the [rest of the] league, you’ve got to think we’re pretty soft, the way we’re playing. We’re a soft team right now. We have no toughness. That stuff’s not toughness. All that stuff, that’s not toughness.”
Doc On “Soft” Celtics:
The chippiness came when Kris Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett, knocking the C’s veteran to the floor. Rajon Rondo took offense to the nature of the foul and began pushing Humphries. A host of other Nets and Celtics on the floor joined the fun, and when the dust settled, Humphries and Gerald Wallace were ejected for the Nets and Rondo was ejected for the Celtics. Garnett was assessed a technical foul as well.
“That foul was a hard foul. It was an unnecessary foul,” Rivers said of Humphries’ foul on Garnett. “The play was over and then he pushed [Garnett] down in the air. But I think that’s what they think of us — they think they can push you around.
Rondo’s ejection led to the end of his streak of games with 10 or more assists at 37, but much worse for the Celtics was that the team was tasked with making up a 13-point deficit without its point guard.
“Kevin could have gotten hurt,” Rivers said. “He’s in the air. He took a bad fall. And so Rondo saw that and probably reacted, and overreacted, obviously. But I can’t get in anybody’s head. At that point we’re getting our tails kicked and we’re probably frustrated.”
The Celtics eventually lost by 12 points, falling further behind Brooklyn (and New York and Philadelphia) in the Atlantic Division standings and dropping to 8-7 on the season. The loss halted a brief two-game winning streak, which included a statement win over Oklahoma City on Friday night.
“We got fired up for one game against Oklahoma City, then we let our guards right back down,” Rivers said. “Kevin, Paul [Pierce] and Rondo — and a couple of other guys — it’s almost like they understand the jersey they’re wearing, and the pride, and everyone else – not everyone – but it’s like they think because they put the jersey on they are something. You’ve got to earn it here.”
Humphries tweeted a photo of his scratched shoulder, facetiously asking his followers, “Anyone know where I can get a quick Tetanus shot in Boston?”
Rondo likely will be suspended by the NBA for the incident, as the league has made a strong push to clean up its image since the 2004 brawl between the Pistons, Pacers and fans in Detroit.
“We all back each other,” Garnett said of the incident. “We take a lot of pride in putting on this jersey. I know I do. This ain’t the Girl Scouts or the Boy Scouts. That’s what it is. It’s the NBA. You’ve got to get used to it.”
Garnett seemed to share some of Rivers’ sentiments as well.
“We have to have more pride playing at home,” Garnett said. “I take a lot of pride in putting this jersey on. Sometimes I question whether we really understand what it means. It’s bothersome.”