Celtics coach Doc Rivers did not use the brawl as an excuse to defend his team's toughness in a 95-83 loss to the Nets on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Instead, he used the altercation between Kevin Garnett and Kris Humphries and the ejection of Rajon Rondo as a reason to call out his own team for being soft and responding in the wrong way to adversity.
"I don't think anybody should get thrown out of a game," Rivers said of Rondo's ejection with 29.5 seconds left in the first half. "We all have to keep our emotions. Hell, we didn't come to play, as a team. That was awful, basketball-wise. If I'm Brooklyn and [other teams] in the league, you have to think we're pretty soft, the way we're playing. We're a soft team right now. We have no toughness. That stuff is not toughness, all that stuff is not toughness."
Rivers was asked if Rondo coming to the defense of Garnett, who was fouled by Humphries, warranted an ejection from the game by the officials.
"I’m not going to get into anybody’s head on that," Rivers said. "I thought it was a bad foul because Kevin (Garnett) could’ve gotten hurt. You know, 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. I mean, listen, I think it’s a point, at that point we’re getting our tails kicked and we’re probably frustrated. But that’s, listen, that foul was a hard foul. It was an unnecessary foul, the play was over and then he pushed him down in the air. But obviously I think that’s what they think of us: they think they can push you around.”
Does Rivers anticipate a suspension for Rondo?
“I have no idea. I haven’t seen anything, so I don’t know anything. We’ll wait and see," said Rivers, who added much has changed since he played 20 years ago in the NBA.
"We would’ve just dusted off and kept playing, but those days are over with, you know? It’s an emotional game, guys," he said. "That’s why it’s so easy – what I’m saying is it’s so easy for me to sit in a suit and tie and be calm and say I wouldn’t have done it, but I’ve been in the fray. And when you’re in the fray you react sometimes. And usually after you react, you wish you hadn’t, but you can’t get it back. Stuff happens and that happened. Don’t like any of that ever in our league, but it does happen. It’s an emotional game.
"Listen, we got fired up for one game, against Oklahoma City, and then other than that we let our guards right back down. You know, Kevin, Paul (Pierce) and Rondo and a couple other guys – it’s almost like they understand the jersey they’re wearing and the pride. And everyone else – and not everyone – it’s almost like they think because they put the jersey on that they are something. You’ve got to earn it here. And you’ve got to understand when we play, every team is attacking. It’s a big game for them. What I saw tonight, honestly, was I thought Brooklyn looked at this game as a huge game. Huge game. They want to make the playoffs this year, they want to win the division. They’ve struggled with us for how many years? And we showed up to play basketball. That’s what I saw.”
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