Celtics, refs react to Pierce's ejection

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Celtics, refs react to Pierce's ejection

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

MIAMI Over the course of his 13 seasons in Boston, Paul Pierce has become the player the Celtics count on most in the fourth quarter, but down the stretch on Sunday in Miami, during the biggest game of this season, Pierce was nowhere to be seen.

The Celtics captain was ejected with seven minutes left in the final frame after picking up his second technical foul, and as is the case anytime the NBA playoffs and NBA referees get together, Pierces ejection will be the subject of controversy.

(Before we go on, it should be noted that the Celtics didnt lose this game because of the referees. They lost this game themselves. But that doesnt excuse the circumstances of why Pierce spent the final minutes of Bostons Game 1 loss in the locker room.)

Pierce's first technical foul came with 7:59 left in the fourth, when he took a hard foul from James Jones, and responded by stepping toward Jones, who didnt back down. They met head-to-head (with Pierce as the aggressor) and were slapped with double technicals.

A minute later, under the Celtics hoop, Pierce attempted to set a screen on Dwyane Wade, who barreled into Pierce, and was called for a foul. Wade and Pierce had words, too many (or the wrong) words according to referee Ed Malloy, who called another double technical and immediately signaled for Pierces ejection. Ending the captains night.

Understandably, Doc Rivers was unhappy with the outcome.

I thought both were flagrant fouls, personally, Rivers said, in reference to the hits Jones and Wade landed on Pierce.

I thought Jones was a clear flagrant, he went right for the head. And I thought Dwyane Wades was an absolute flagrant, he made no effort to go for the ball, he was just trying to run through Paul.

After the game, crew chief Dan Crawford responded to both controversial plays.

On the Jones incident: Pierce's first technical, it was contact during a dead ball. He approached Jones and got right in his face. There wasnt a head butt, but he got right in his face after a hard foul.

When asked then what Jones did to deserve his half of the double tech, Crawford said: It was Jones' hard foul that pretty much precipitated Paul doing what he did.

On the Wade play: It was a verbal taunt. Pierce directed profanity towards Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierces second technical foul.

When asked then what Wade did to deserve his half of the double tech, Crawford said: He actually walked toward Pierce and thats why Wade received his, walking toward Pierce and then Pierces reaction to it.

As you can tell, even in the mind of the referees, both of Pierces technicals were instigated by Miami, which of course, only adds to Celtic Nations ire. But this is a veteran basketball team, one you expect to lure the other team into Ts, instead of the other way around. And through all his frustration, Rivers was sure to note that in the future his team needs to be above that, and not get sucked into any extra curricular activity.

I told Paul, you still dont react, River said. I thought we were a retaliating team tonight, we were never the first hit team, but I really thought both were absolute flagrant fouls that should have been called.

Pierce didnt speak to the media after the game (the team said hell be available on Monday), but his teammates did speak and for the most part sang a similar tune as their coach.

I didnt think anything happened that warranted a technical, said Ray Allen. Pierces emotional. Dwyane Wade is trying to run through him and hes trying to set a screen. I dont think he did anything over the top. Again, its us learning how to get out of those situations and back away from them. That the second technical foul . . . We cant put the game in the referees hands. We got to be smarter out there.

We just need to keep our composure, said Glen Davis. We cant worry about other players. If they want to throw dirty shots or anything like that. Yeah, we want to protect and stand up for ourselves but still we need to keep our composure."

Kevin Garnett was asked to respond to Rivers claim that the Celtics were caught reacting too much in their nine-point loss.

I agree with that, he said.

And will they be able to turn it around and get back to their style of ball?

Well find out tomorrow, Garnett said.

Which is when well also get Pierces take on the details of what led to him spending crunch time which is typically Paul Pierce Time watching from the locker room.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

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“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”