Boston Celtics

Game 6 referee once tossed Rivers

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Game 6 referee once tossed Rivers

Doc Rivers has a checkered history with one of the referees working tonight's Game 6. In 2009, Bill Kennedy tossed Doc Rivers from a game against the Bulls. Both men were fined for the incident -- Rivers was docked 25,000.

At the time, Rivers said: "The technical on which I got thrown out was the most unprofessional technical by a ref I've ever had. He stood there and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me. Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about my players. That's my right to say that, and he walked away... He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game. In a 5-point game? Think about that."

In all likelihood, the relationship between Rivers and Kennedy will have very little impact on tonight's game, but it's worth mentioning that they may not like each other -- especially if you have subscribed to the theory that all NBA referees are dirty ever since the Tim Donaghy scandal came to light.

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.