Celtics coach Doc Rivers defended his players Thursday morning on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan Show, placing the blame for a 2d-quarter fight on Nets forward Kris Humphries while also acknowledging that Rajon Rondo needs to better keep his composure.
“Humphries was at fault,” said Rivers. “The foul was what precipitated everything. They called a flagrant to begin with. That started it. But then we took it to the next level.”
Rondo and Humphries were ejected following the brawl. The official statement from crew chief James Capers was that the players were thrown out for carrying the fight into the stands. Capers disagreed with Rivers’s assessment, saying “Rondo initiated everything that proceeded after the foul.” Rivers tried to downplay the incident Thursday.
“I really thought just watching it, if it was in the middle of the floor, I don’t know how bad this would have been,”said Rivers. “Once you go in the stands, then everything happens. Whenever a guy gets undercut—and that’s what it looked like, like he took his legs out and fell backwards on his back—it looked bad.
“Could there be suspensions? Yeah, there could be. There was no punches thrown. But the fact that it went into the stands usually means there’s suspensions.”
Rivers said he did not speak to Rondo about the incident last night but said he would talk to Rondo today. In addition to being disappointed in his player, Rivers said he was upset with his team. After calling his team “soft” last night, Rivers softened the statement somewhat.
“I was more relaying what Brooklyn was saying, what they were thinking,” said Rivers. “They looked at us as soft.”
Rondo has been ejected from a game three times in the last 10 months. There’s a relevant precedent: After a 2006 brawl between the Knicks and Nuggets, Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith got 10 games each because they continued a fight into the stands. Rivers said his point guard needs better control.
“Well I just want him to keep getting better at it,” said Rivers. “He’s grown each year. You want to be on the edge but you don’t want to take it over the edge. And he’s done that a couple of times.”
Jeff Green left during the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game with what the team called a “sprained knee.” Green returned a short time later. Rivers had a curious answer when asked if Green had gotten hurt, saying, “I don’t think so.”
Asked if he has been disappointed with Green, Rivers said, “I am. I know he’s better. I know he can be better.”