Rondo hoping to avoid suspension
ATLANTA - Rajon Rondo could be facing a suspension after making contact with official Marc Davis in the final minute of the Celtics’ 83-74 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Sunday night.
Rondo had been suspended for two games after being ejected for tossing the ball at official Sean Wright in a 96-81 loss at Detroit Feb. 19.
“I was upset with the [foul call on Brandon Bass] and I said something to [Davis],’’ Rondo said. “As I was walking, I thought he stopped and my momentum carried me into him. I think I might even tripped on his foot. I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him.’’
Asked about a possible suspension, Rondo replied, “We’ll see, it’s out of my control. Obviously, I want to be there for my teammates but, other than that, I have no control right now.’’
Rondo said coach Doc Rivers “just told me to keep my composure, which I know. I was just out there competing. I wanted to win. My teammates all thought that I was obviously in the wrong. They may see that I bumped him, but I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him. I know the rules. Like I said, my momentum carried me into him. I thought he stopped and that’s what occurred.’’
The Celtics trailed, 78-74, when Kevin Garnett dove for a loose ball, Josh Smith ending up with possession while on his back.
“I thought [Smith] had traveled, I thought it was a jump ball. But it’s not my job to make the call, it’s his.’’
Rondo, who scored 12 of the Celtics’ 35 first-half points, finished the night with 20 points (on 10-for-18 shooting) and 11 assists.
“It affects us a lot - there goes our leader,’’ Garnett said of losing Rondo. “But, at the same time, you know, whatever the decision is, we have to be able to play without him. And we will be prepared either way.
“He’s our young leader. He’s very professional, he’s learned from countless situations he’s been in. He’s progressed as a young man and young leader. There are a lot of personalities around here. We don’t follow just because Doc says follow, we follow Rondo for a reason. Doc’s system is predicated on hard work and playing hard. Obviously, we want certain personnel in positions, but the team is built so it runs continually like a wheel.
“He’s Voltron, he’s our black lion, but we’re going to continue to be who we are and [give a] better effort for Game 2.’’
Ankle stops Allen
Ray Allen missed the playoff opener against the Hawks after failing to overcome problems with his right ankle. Allen participated in a morning shootaround at Georgia Tech University and arrived at Philips Arena for a pregame workout.
“It’s going to be day to day, I guess, game to game,’’ Rivers said of Allen’s condition. “That’s just what it is.’’
Allen sustained the injury during the Celtics’ February road trip, but continued to play through March 23. He has missed 15 of 20 games since then, including the final nine of the regular season.
“It’s kind of hard,’’ Allen said of missing the game. “It’s the playoffs, I’ve got to be totally ready. As much as I know I can help the team, I don’t want to detract from the team.’’
Before the game, Rivers assumed that Mickael Pietrus would replace Allen, “but the game may dictate someone else.’’ Pietrus ended up playing 20 scoreless minutes Sunday night.
“We wanted Pietrus to play with Ray,’’ Rivers said of the Celtics’ early-season acquisition. “Where he’s become valuable is he can play the ‘2’ and the ‘3,’ he can play heavy minutes. The thing I’ve been most impressed with him is he’s ready to play. Whether he plays 15 minutes in a game, that’s good. Whether he plays 30 minutes in a game, that’s good. There’s not many guys that can do that.’’
The Celtics went without Garnett and Paul Pierce during a 97-92 loss to Atlanta April 20. Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, and Ryan Hollins all played more than 30 minutes in that contest.
“I just hope it may have helped one guy,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t know if it did or not.’’
A tough talk
Rivers said he discussed star Bulls guard Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee injury with Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant.
“I hated it,’’ Rivers said of viewing Rose’s injury. “I talked to Thibs a long time [Saturday] night. You hate to see that, he’s a good kid and even if he’s not you hate to see anyone get injured.
“That’s a bad injury. Just tough to see that.’’
Look to the past
The Celtics outscored the Hawks by 84 points in winning a seven-game series in the 2007-08 playoffs. The Celtics had a 101-point advantage over the Hawks in four home games and were outscored by 17 points in three games in Atlanta.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.