On Wednesday night the Boston Celtics faced the streaking Brooklyn Nets at home. The Nets came into the TD Garden off a big win in their first battle of the NY boroughs and looked to make another statement against their Atlantic Division rival. Tempers flared, a fight broke out, and ejections ensued. Rajon Rondo, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace were all ejected from the game after a fight following a hard foul on Kevin Garnett. The Celtics eventually fell to the Nets 95-83 in a game that the team just couldn't get anything going.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Celtics game tonight and heard mixed emotions from the crowd in a dismal loss. The Celtics opened up play well starting with a open mid range jumper drained by Paul Pierce. Things were looking up in the first 8 minutes of play but the Celtics hit a lull both offensively and defensively and never recovered.
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 28: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics lands on the court after going up for a shot in front of Kris Humphries #43 of the Brooklyn Nets during the game on November 28, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Garnett would be fouled on the play which would start a fight between members of the two teams.
The team opened up with a starting line-up of Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett. Of the starters Paul Pierce tallied the most minutes with 39 but shot poorly on the night going 4-13 finishing with 14 points while adding 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Kevin Garnett was the most consistent player for the team shooting 7-13 for 16 points and 10 rebounds. The story of the night came as Kevin Garnett drove to the basket and was fouled hard by Kris Humphries. Kris gave a little extra shove at the end of the play that didn't sit well with Rondo who quickly rushed to KG's defense and sparked a bench clearing brawl along the baseline. Rondo retaliated by shoving Humphries numerous times and things escalated quickly. The referees finally gained control of the game and stopped the fight as Rondo came away jersey-less and both teams retreated to their benches. The refs reviews the play and handed out ejections to Rajon Rondo, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Wallace.
It's interesting to hear the biased opinions of the hometown announcers. As expected, Tommy immediately compliments Rondo's courage to get in Humphries face: "I want Rondo on my side". The NY network clip is certainly more in-depth as far as seeing how the fight played out but I had to include the CSSNE coverage as you got to love Tommy's loyalty. Check out Mike and Tommy's reaction on the CCSNE coverage and NY's local YES network's:
NY YES Network:
Due to the ejection, this marked the end of Rondo's assist streak leaving him tied with John Stockton at 37 straight games of double digit assists. Being at the game I heard mixed emotions from the crowd's takeaways from the fight. The crowd as a whole quickly came to the defense of their team showing support with a loud "Let's Go Celtics" chant. I heard some fans praising Rondo's loyalty and courage for defending his teammate and close friend Kevin Garnett. I also heard many people commenting on the end of Rondo's assist streak. Some mourned the end of the historic feat while others praised it, hoping Rajon and the team could finally put it behind them and focus on winning games. In the time he did play it was apparent Rondo opted to pass first to pad his streak instead of being aggressive and attacking the basket. For better or worse the streak is over. We can only wait and see if the league will handout a suspension to Rondo for retaliation. If so it could certainly cripple the team in upcoming games. Hopefully this isn't the case and instead it'll unify the team, help them focus on winning games, and ultimately achieve the Ubuntu they constantly preach.
The team as a whole looked extremely sloppy and simply couldn't get anything going. On the offensive side the Celtics committed 17 turnovers and were stifled by Brooklyn's defense. The Nets utilized the full-court press early in the game and the Celtics had no answer for it. Numerous times the ball handler was forced to pick-up his dribble and force a bad pass leading to a turnover. After Rondo's ejection things only got worse and our lack of a true backup point guard certainly showed.
Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo (9) goes up to shoot between Brooklyn Nets' Kris Humphries, left, and Deron Williams (8) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The only other Celtic player who had a decent game was Brandon Bass. He tied for the team high 16 points with KG while struggling on the glass against Reggie Evans only grabbing 3 boards. On a night when the team desperately needed help from the bench none could be found. The bench only added 18 points lead by rookie Jared Sullinger who finished with 6 points and 3 rebound in 14 minutes of play.
Surprisingly the Nets didn't play well offensively either. They only shot 40.2% for the game compared to that of Boston's 42.7%. The biggest difference came from both the bench and their work on the offensive glass, as Brooklyn pulled in 17 offensive rebounds that lead to easy second chance points. The Nets' bench made a huge difference providing 52 points although it should be noted that this was largely due to increased playing time after Wallace and Humphries' ejections. Joe Johnson finished with a game high 18 points on 6-14 shooting while adding 6 assists and 4 rebounds. At times it seemed like Joe Johnson was the only player who could score for either team. The thirty-eight year old, Jerry Stackhouse had another impressive game shooting 5-6, all from three point land and finished with 17 points.
While most would figure this would be a throw away game due to the ejections it certainly cannot be. The Celtics looked extremely sloppy and had little if any positive takeaways from the game. I'm sure this will be a game that's heavily debated and dissected in the coming days. At this point we can only anticipate how the team with respond after such as demoralizing loss. As mentioned previously, hopefully the team can use this game as fuel to work hard, play together, and come out strong as they face the Trailblazers at home Friday night.