BOSTON (CBS) – As the Boston Celtics finished off their 94-75 blowout win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, halting their four-game losing streak, Kevin Garnett had to watch from the locker room.
Garnett was ejected with 8:24 to go in the fourth quarter after hitting the Pacers’ Tyler Hansbrough across the face while going after the ball. He was whistled for a flagrant-2, which calls for an immediate ejection.
Garnett left to an ovation after his 18 point, seven rebound performance, and after the game maintained he didn’t mean any harm to Hansbrough — he was just going for the ball.
“I was firm. I didn’t mean to hit him in the face like that,” said Garnett. “I was actually trying to swipe the ball, but it was a physical game and they called it the way it was. It was part of the game.”
Head coach Doc Rivers had not seen the play when talking to the media after the game, but joked that head referee James Capers may have done Garnett a favor.
“Honestly, there was so much crap going on at that point, I think Cape has been around the league a long time and I think he was thinking, ‘I’m going to do Kevin a favor and get him out of here’ because it was getting chippy,” said Doc. “I had Brandon [Bass] at the table anyway because I could see that. And I really think sometimes that’s what officials do, and you can’t blame them for it. That’s what it was.”
With the Celtics up 20, there was no reason for Garnett to be on the court anyways, and it may benefit the Celtics in the short-term. Garnett only played 24 minutes on Friday night, which should give him some fresher legs for Saturday night’s game in Atlanta against the Hawks.
Friday night was Garnett’s first ejection in two seasons.