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The Celtics lost to the Nets for the second time this season, last night, 95-83. Kevin Garnett finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the Celtics got horribly out-hustled in what was, with the exception of the stinker in Detroit, their most disappointing performance of the young NBA season.
The Nets won because of a tremendous effort on the offensive glass and the 52 points they got from their bench. Jerry ‘No I’m Not Retired’ Stackhouse and Andray ‘No I’m Not Incarcerated’ Blatche led the way for the Nets.
None of the stats or analysis matter more than this incident, that caused Rajon Rondo, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Wallace to all get ejected from the game in the second quarter:
Humphries fouls Garnett and unnecessarily pushes him to the floor. Humprhies smirks at Rondo upon committing the act to Rondo’s best friend and mentor. Rondo takes offense, gives Humphries a hard forearm to the chest to let him know that it wasn’t cute, and somehow the two teams end up halfway into the stands.
Let’s get one thing straight- Neither Rondo nor Humphries threw any punches. The only person who looks like he may have been intent on throwing a punch was Wallace who, seemingly unprovoked, decided to assault Garnett.
Rondo is catching most of the slack for this incident, and rightfully so given his history of lashing out at the officials, but what people aren’t talking about is what actually happened after the initial shove. Paul Pierce appears to break up the arm lock the two perpetrators are in right next to the goal post, and Humphries reaches back out and pulls Rondo into the second row with his jersey wrapped around his head. Rondo appears to be taking open handed swipes at Humphries to free himself from his grasp.
The two should get suspended for this, a player skirmish can never interfere with fan safety period, but what the NBA cannot ignore is the fact that it was Humphries, not Rondo, who seemed intent on taking the tussle to the stands rather than keeping it on the court.
The Celtics are now excepting resumes for a backup point guard. Rondo is likely gone at least two games, likely more, and Leandro Barbossa, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry don’t have the ball skills to create the shots that Garnett and Pierce need at this point in their careers. The Celtics cannot afford to concede their next two plus games because of a Rondo suspension.
On the bright side, the assist streak is over. When Rondo gets back hopefully he starts looking to score more and hopefully his teammates are less afraid to shoot on passes that aren’t from him. This won’t solve the Celtics rebounding woes, but any issue that can be resolved is a start.
One thing is clear after a strong week from the Nets: the Atlantic Division has a new front-runner. The Nets knocked off the Knicks in a dramatic overtime victory on Monday and marched into Boston and dominated another statement game. The team from Brooklyn gets it done on the glass, they make the extra pass and they commit hard fouls. If the Celtics want to catch the Nets this season they aren’t going to do it by retaliating with shoving matches, they are going to have to muscle up on the other end of the court, box out and return the hard fouls.
After the game Doc Rivers called his team out for being “soft”- He’s right.