A day after their demoralizing 100-99 overtime loss Friday night to the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics were still lamenting the game’s critical play.
With the Celtics ahead by 2 points and 12.1 seconds left in regulation, Rajon Rondo inbounded the ball to Paul Pierce, who gyrated with the ball as Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler of Chicago converged on him. Butler tried to tie up Pierce from behind, and Pierce brought the ball in front of him, only to have officials rule that Noah tied him up from the front.
Pierce came out with a swollen lip, no foul call, and a jump ball with Noah. Noah won the jump, and Chicago’s Marco Belinelli came up with the loose ball. Belinelli had the ball knocked away in the key, only to have Kirk Hinrich gather it and hit the tying jumper with 2.1 seconds left.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he will send a video of the play to the NBA office for review. He believes Pierce was fouled, and even if he wasn’t, Rondo was standing directly in front of official Marc Davis signaling for a timeout.
“Of course he was fouled, there’s no doubt about that,” Rivers said. “And I also thought, if you watched it, Rondo absolutely called a timeout. It’s clear. He was literally an inch away from Marc Davis’s face and did it twice and then you could see Sean Corbin’s hand go up for a jump ball.
“It was clear, in my opinion, he was fouled, No. 1, and No. 2, we got the timeout and it wasn’t called.
“If you watch it, [Davis] couldn’t see the play because Rondo was in his face. Maybe he was looking around. Maybe that happened, honestly, because their job is to look at the play.”
Asked whether it was the 7-foot Noah or the 6-foot-8-inch Butler who tied up Pierce, Rivers said, “I know Butler tied him up and the film shows that. And then Noah reaches in afterwards, and what they were saying was they didn’t call that one they called [Noah’s]. And I said, ‘If that’s true, then he was fouled five times.’
“It’s was absolutely Butler, in my opinion.”
The Celtics have had trouble with Davis over the past few years. He was the official who ejected Rondo for making contact during Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against the Hawks last spring.
Rivers said the Celtics cannot ask the league not to assign Davis to their games.
“You can request, but it ain’t gonna happen,” Rivers said. “I think, knowing commissioner [David] Stern, you’ll get him the next game.
“The officials you’re talking about, I think they have run-ins with other guys, too. I can tell you the Chicago people probably felt the same way going into the game.
“I hope there’s never any grudges being held. It is a human game and you do know that, but I hope it’s not. I think our league is better than that.”
No time to take it easy
The Celtics head out on a two-game road trip to face Detroit and Cleveland, teams that were a combined 24-56 going into Saturday.
But the Pistons have given the Celtics trouble recently, beating Boston twice in five days last year and then by 20 in November at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
This season has been filled with losing streaks for Detroit. The Pistons lost eight consecutive games to begin the season and also have a six-game losing streak. But since then, they have put together some impressive wins — over Miami, Milwaukee (twice), and Atlanta.
“They’ve beaten some good teams; look at who they beat,” Rivers said. “They were struggling and then they started playing better. In this league, you’ve got to play everybody.
“New Orleans beat Chicago in Chicago, they beat us in Boston. This is the NBA, and I think people get caught up in records. Those guys are all really good on every team, and if you don’t play well, you are going to lose.”
Hip still bothering Bradley
Avery Bradley played injured during Wednesday’s 90-78 loss to the Hornets and missed Friday’s loss to the Bulls with bruised ribs. After not feeling any improvement Saturday, Bradley underwent more X-rays, which were negative.
He accompanied the club to Detroit and is questionable for Sunday’s game.
“He just plays hard, and guys like that are going to get injured,” Rivers said. “That’s fine by me. It really is. I want him to play the way he plays.
“He’ll probably get better at it as his career goes on and have less and less [injuries]. [Cleveland’s Anderson] Varejao gets hurt all the time. He plays hard. There are a group of guys — Kirk Hinrich is one of those guys. He’s always in the scrum.
“But you can’t do without those guys, either, and what they do is really important for your team. So you will never tell them not to [play hard].”
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.