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Celtics notebook

No free throw for Ainge

He’s fined $25,000 for tossing towel

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 7, 2010

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WALTHAM — Three days and $25,000 later, the Celtics could laugh about it. At least coach Doc Rivers could.

The NBA fined Celtics president Danny Ainge that amount yesterday for tossing a towel in the air during the third quarter of the Game 2 win over Cleveland, calling the attempt to distract a free throw shooter “conduct detrimental to the game.’’

Ainge was shocked that what began as an exchange with hecklers near his front-row seat along the baseline at Quicken Loans Arena turned into something that would receive national attention. Rivers was just as surprised, but acknowledged that the footage of the towel-toss was amusing.

“I laughed because I know Danny,’’ Rivers said. “Danny is probably as competitive a person as I’ve met in my life, and [the Cavaliers] were making a run. You could see him getting into the game, and he couldn’t do anything about it. He feels like me sitting on the sidelines at times.’’

The Celtics were leading by 23 at the time of the incident, and Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson made the free throw anyway.

This season, the Celtics have forked over a total of $200,000 in fines. Rasheed Wallace has been docked three times for a total of $100,000.

“I was surprised actually about the fine,’’ Rivers said. “I know a lot of people were not. I was. I know he’s an employee. What’s the difference? The mascots do it all the time. I was just wondering if Danny had worn Lucky’s outfit, would he have gotten away with it?

“The $25,000, that’s not very funny. The joke’s over after that.’’

Caught off guard
While Rajon Rondo got more votes for the NBA’s All-Defensive team than anyone but Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins managed only four votes (one for the first team), a low total for a player considered around the league to be one of the best interior defenders.

“I don’t get why he doesn’t get enough votes for the All-Defensive team,’’ Rivers said. “He’s a tremendous defensive player. I don’t know if there’s a better on-man defender in the league than Perk, guarding his man at the 5-spot, yet he doesn’t get a lot of attention defensively.

“It’s funny, every team you play against, they know what he does, but no one else seems like they know. It may be his look. He makes everybody angry, including the voters.’’

Perkins was let down by not being voted one of the league’s top defenders.

“You’re disappointed a little bit, because you feel like you can defend better than half of those guys on the paper,’’ Perkins said. “But at the same time you give credit to them for making it and you just try to bounce back and do a better job next year.

“My goal is to come out there, continue to work hard at what I do. If I make it, it’s a good accomplishment. If I don’t, you’ve just got to keep trying, keep working hard.’’

Give and take
The Celtics gained a split in Cleveland despite turning the ball over 35 times, which the Cavaliers turned into 46 points. The Celtics gave the ball away 14.9 times per game in the regular season, tied for ninth-most in the league.

“When you think we won a game after the turnovers we had in Cleveland, and the foul shot difference [the Cavaliers had 38 attempts, Boston 18], it’s tough to win a game,’’ Rivers said. “We know we have to be better this game.

“They’re a lot like Miami in the fact that you turn the ball over, you should just give them 2 points, because that means LeBron [James] is in the open court by himself, and there are not a lot of options on stopping that. Even when you try to foul him, sometimes he still scores through the contact.

“And the type of turnovers we’ve had are bad. We’ve had open-court turnovers, cross-court-passes turnovers. You can’t have those in this series or any series.’’

Big spot
Wallace’s 17 points in Game 2 got a lot of attention, but Rivers was looking beyond the box score. “For us, publicly, his shooting and scoring was what everyone saw but for us it was more the defense, and things like that,’’ said the coach. “He did a lot of little things in Game 2 that we need him to do again. We need to have a sustained defensive effort at the 5 and 4 spots for 48 minutes, so it’s not just Rasheed, it’s everybody. Those two positions are really important for us. We need those positions to be great, all game.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com; Frank Dell’Apa of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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