NEW YORK — The Celtics Monday were forced to adjust quickly because of a Rajon Rondo suspension, the second time that has happened this season.
At the team’s shootaround Monday morning at the New York Athletic Club, coach Doc Rivers announced that Rondo would miss the showdown against the Knicks because he bumped into official Rodney Mott during the Celtics’ 89-81 win over the Hawks in Atlanta Saturday night and drew a one-game ban.
Rondo was whistled for an offensive foul on a drive and approached Mott after the call, bumping into him. He was not called for a technical foul.
According to the NBA release, Rondo also was suspended because of “failure to cooperate with a league investigation.” A league source said Rondo had a conversation with NBA officials Monday but was mum about the incident.
It was the second time Rondo was suspended this season and the fourth time in 11 months, and three of the suspensions have stemmed from issues with officials.
In a game Feb. 19, 2012, against the Detroit Pistons, Rondo was ejected and suspended for two games for tossing a ball at official Sean Wright. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Atlanta Hawks in April, he bumped into official Marc Davis after disputing a call and was banned for a game. And he was suspended two games after a Nov. 28 fight with Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries. Rondo threw punches at Humphries after his hard foul on Kevin Garnett.
“Just disappointed,” Rivers said before Monday night’s game. “I actually saw it and, honestly, I didn’t think anything of it. Obviously the official didn’t either, he didn’t call a tech, but you know the old saying is you’re not given a reputation, you earn one, and I’m sure that had a lot do with it as well. Just move on for us.”
When asked what he can do about Rondo’s behavior and growing reputation with officials and the league, Rivers said, “We just work on it, every day. He’s going to play a long time and he has a lot of time to change it.”
Jason Terry started at shooting guard and Avery Bradley moved to point guard for Monday night’s game, a 102-96 Celtics win. Boston had 26 assists, its fifth-highest total of the season, and improved to 2-1 this season with Rondo out because of suspension.
Anthony not mellow
Apparently, Carmelo Anthony did not want the Celtics to leave town so soon after their victory. Not only did Anthony attempt to confront Garnett at the visiting locker room following the game, he confronted Garnett near the team bus, according to the New York Daily News. Anthony eventually was restrained by Madison Square Garden security.
Anthony and Garnett defended each other for most of the game, and began trash talking, culminating in technical fouls for both at 9:03 of the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading, 82-78. After a timeout, Anthony screamed expletives at Garnett as they walked to their benches.
Following the game, as the Celtics exited the tunnel nearest their bench, Anthony darted for the opposite tunnel pushing off teammate Kurt Thomas, who tried restraining him, as well as two stadium security guards. Anthony nearly reached the locker room before being held back by teammates.
“I’m going to let y’all figure that one out,” Rivers said. “I’m going to stay out of that. If it were the playoffs, I’d tell on him, but since it’s not, I’ll keep quiet.”
Anthony may face a fine and suspension. Garnett downplayed the incident, saying of Anthony, “He’s trying to get his team to go, I’m trying to get my team to go, things are colliding, not to mention that it’s the Knicks and the Celtics. Just what it is man. It’s basketball, all right?”
Garnett got his fourth technical foul of the season and first since the Christmas Day mix-up with Brooklyn’s Gerald Wallace. Paul Pierce’s technical for disputing a foul call on Tyson Chandler was his first technical of the season.
While Sunday’s waiving of Jarvis Varnado was expected, the release of Kris Joseph was more surprising considering he was a second-round pick and the team liked his potential. But Rivers said the move was more about the Celtics’ approaching the luxury tax if those contracts were guaranteed.
“I think [Joseph] has a chance to be a pretty good player; it’s going to take him some time,” Rivers said. “And the salary-cap stuff kind of won out overall. I hope [that Joseph comes back]. That would be great. With the money thing, we probably will wait, but I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player. ”
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.