Mark L. Baer/US Presswire
In a game marred by Rajon Rondo's second-quarter ejection after a brawl that also saw Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace booted, the Celtics endured their second loss of the month to Atlantic Division-leading Brooklyn. Old friend Joe Johnson scored a team-high 18 points (on 6-of-14 shooting) over 40 minutes for the Nets, while Andray Blatche (13 rebounds) and Jerry Stackhouse (5-of-6 beyond the arc) each chipped in 17 points off the bench. Kevin Garnett registered a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) while Brandon Bass added 16 points for the Celtics. Paul Pierce labored with 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting (30.8 percent), and Boston emerged battered and bruised in a rough-and-tumble game.
FIGHT NIGHT AT THE GARDEN: RONDO'S STREAK ENDS
Rondo was ejected after striking Humphries in the chest after Humphries committed a hard foul on Garnett in the final seconds of the first half. Humphries fouled Garnett on the baseline with 29.5 seconds to play in the second quarter, and Garnett spilled to the floor. Rondo reacted instantly with a two-handed shove, then followed up as he and Humphries spilled into the crowd below the basket. Rondo's ejection ended his double-digit assist streak at 37 games, leaving him in a tie for the second-longest streak in NBA history.
A ROUGH NIGHT ALL AROUND
If Rondo's ejection wasn't enough, Chris Wilcox departed in the first half due to illness and did not return. Jeff Green sprained his right knee late in the third quarter, but returned to the game in the final quarter. Meanwhile, Courtney Lee hit the ground hard in the fourth frame and appeared to have a painful left-arm stinger. He returned to the floor after a timeout.
The Nets put together a little 11-0 run spanning into the second quarter, scoring the final six points of the first frame before a Stackhouse 3-pointer and two free throws from Johnson pushed the lead to 33-20 with 10:00 minutes to play in the first half. That lead would jump up to as much as 21, and just when Boston was starting to make a little charge, Rondo got ejected and the wheels came off the game. The Celtics twice got the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, but never lower than 9.
DOC TAGGED WITH EARLY TECH
Setting the tone for the night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers earned his first technical foul of the 2012-13 season a mere 4:35 into Wednesday's game. Barking at the referees after Boston gave up a dunk to Blatche, Rivers got T'd up by referee Kane Fitzgerald and was infuriated at the penalty.
WHAT IT MEANS
Well, that escalated quickly. Rondo's ejection will overshadow the game and it's likely the league will come down hard on him for his physical nature in confronting Humphries. A multiple-game suspension almost certainly awaits, which puts the 8-7 Celtics in a tough spot without a true backup point guard on the roster. The Celtics do have an open roster spot, one they wanted to preserve for later in the season. The severity of his penalty could force Boston's hand a bit, at least until Avery Bradley is healthy enough to return to action (projected at mid-December). Below all the clutter, the Celtics got handled by the upstart Nets yet again.