Garnett shoved aside at finish
After the bodies had been untangled, the tempers had lowered to a simmer rather than a boil, Kevin Garnett sat alone in the Celtics’ locker room to think about what had happened and what it could cost him.
He had crossed enemy lines and gone into the Miami Heat bench area, he said, to protect Paul Pierce, who been pushed down by Quentin Richardson. He saw Pierce holding his shoulder in pain, and he was aware, he said, that Pierce was still dealing with shoulder stingers that had cropped up in a loss to San Antonio a little more than two weeks ago.
He saw himself as coming to the rescue. He ended up sparking a melee.
“I just saw Q was standing over him, talking nonsense,’’ Garnett said. “I just asked him to give him some room. Before you knew it, mayhem started . . . Before you knew it, it all just broke out. I have to use my head, the only thing that I saw was Paul hurt, and that was the only thing that I cared about at that time.’’
Initially, he nudged Richardson back with his elbow. The two jawed at each other, igniting chaos that earned Richardson, Udonis Haslem, and Glen Davis technical fouls and got Garnett ejected with double technicals. Trying to sift through a crowd of players partly restraining him and partly instigating the situation, Garnett threw elbows, one of which struck Richardson.
“I don’t even remember elbowing anybody,’’ Garnett said after the Celtics closed out a Game 1 win. “I just remember people grabbing me. That’s all I remember. Next thing I know, Doc [Rivers] is sitting there yelling at me.’’
After missing the playoffs last year to injury, the concern now is that he could miss Game 2 because of a possible suspension.
“You make your bed, you have to lay in it,’’ Garnett said. “If I see any of my teammates down, I want to make sure that they are all right. [Pierce] has had history with this shoulder and I just wanted to make sure that he was all right.’’
Said Rivers, “I’m concerned as far as what I heard and know. I just — I haven’t seen it, so I’m at a disadvantage. You know, I don’t think he was the instigator; I can say that much. I did see that much. But we’ll see.’’
Pierce, on the floor grabbing his shoulder, said he never saw Richardson hovering over him. The two have history that goes back to last regular season when Richardson took exception to the Celtics’ trash-talking while he was with the Knicks.
Explaining how he saw things unfold, Richardson said, “I was trying to get over there to take the ball out of bounds and he started to talk to me so I talked back. I don’t have any business talking to him [Pierce], he was on the ground crying. I don’t know what was going on, two actresses over there, that’s what they are.’’
Richardson admitted that when he walked over “I said to Jermaine [O’Neal], ‘He’s OK,’ because I knew nobody touched him. Is he taking another break like he does so many times? Sometimes he falls like he’s about to be out for the season and then he gets right up, that’s all I said.’’
Cocky and intimidating, the Celtics’ reputation as bullies has made them enemies over the past three seasons.
“That’s there mentality,’’ Dwayne Wade said. “They try to push you to the limit, they try to bully you. I think if you let them get in your head they’ll succeed at it, that’s what they do.’’
Richardson made his feelings clear: “I don’t like them, and they know it.’’
This year — his free agent year, a time when it would seem like it would be the most difficult to be patient — it seemed like he embraced the wait. He was on the fringes of the rotation, with the additions of Marquis Daniels, then Nate Robinson, then Michael Finley pushing him out. But he stayed ready.
“Like they always say, patience is a virtue,’’ Allen said. “I took into that and I patiently waited and I’m here now trying to compete for a title.’’
Before last night’s Game 1 win over the Heat, Allen was honored with the Comcast SportsNet Sixth Star award, given to the player who best represents the great Celtics sixth men of the past. His season did have its sidetracks — ankle injuries, back spasms, hip problems, and recently the flu — but he played 54 games, his highest total in two years. He accepted his role as a defender and turned into the player Rivers uses to stop the stars.
“Perseverance,’’ Rivers said. “That’s where Tony’s picture belongs [next] to right now. He’s just kind of fought. He’s had injuries every year. He’s never been able to have a healthy campaign.
“Early on this year, he wasn’t playing at all, and the one thing we noticed more than anything was an attitude change. ‘I’m just going to play harder. I’m going to be a defensive player and I’m going to do whatever they need me to do.’ And he found his way onto the floor.’’
Last night’s win saw Allen at his finest. He scored 14 points, but his defense on Wade helped turn the tide, as the Celtics erased a 14-point third-quarter deficit to win going away. Wade finished with 26 points, but was scoreless for 12:35 spanning the third and fourth quarters when the Celtics made their run.