The mild-mannered Stevens got tagged with only the second technical foul of his NBA career Friday when he wandered too far onto the court to protest the lack of a whistle after Celtics center Tyler Zeller appeared to draw contact while finishing a fast-break layup in the third quarter of a 101-95 loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"I was told that I came onto the court," Stevens told reporters after the game. "So I don’t know. I obviously reacted to Tyler's layup. I haven't seen it; I haven't seen the replay. I don't have a reaction to [the technical]."
Coaches sometimes seek a technical to give their lifeless teams a jolt, but Stevens simply seemed to chirp too loud, too close to official Ron Garretson, who was chasing the ball after it rolled near the Boston bench after Zeller scored.
Ultimately, it might not have been the oddest technical foul sequence of the night. Celtics reserve forward Jonas Jerebko was assessed a third-quarter technical, but it was erased during video review of the play. It appeared the referee might have thought Jerebko came off the Boston bench to help pick up Jared Sullinger after New York's Kyle O'Quinn delivered a hard foul, but Jerebko had simply sprinted in from the 3-point line in front of Boston's bench.
Stevens earned his first NBA technical and was ejected from a loss in Sacramento on Feb. 22, 2014. He had navigated 122 games without a technical, including Boston's entire 94-game campaign last season (preseason, regular season and postseason games).
Stevens has joked in the past that his small number of NBA technicals is not for a lack of trying, adding that there have been officials who most certainly have desired to T him up. Despite his calm nature, Stevens hasn't been bashful with voicing displeasure at times from his sideline perch.
The rest of the headlines from Boston's loss on Friday night:
• Sullinger's struggles: If you wanted to chalk up Sullinger's preseason struggles to a lack of minutes, that theory took a hit Friday while the fourth-year big man endured his second straight clunker.
Sullinger was the fifth big off the bench for Boston again, but logged 19 minutes of court time while playing much of the fourth quarter with the Celtics' youngest players. He finished 1-of-8 shooting with five points (missing three free throws, too) but did grab 10 rebounds.
Asked about finding a rhythm, Sullinger first acknowledged the lack of minutes this preseason but added: "It is what it is. You're going to have those stretches where it's like that. Thank God it's preseason not the regular season. We got time."
Pressed on how limited minutes might be affecting him, Sullinger added, "It doesn't affect me at all. At the same time, you've got to just go out there, you gotta be a pro's pro and you gotta be ready when the time comes. I'm working on it, working on it. Rome wasn't built in one day. So, slowly improving."
•Familiar flop: During the fourth quarter, Sullinger wrapped up Knicks veteran Sasha Vujacic to prevent a fast break and the veteran guard flailed a bit on his way to the ground, prompting a video review. Asked about the potential flop, Sullinger said, "I don't know, I was just trying to stop the fast break. I guess he was trying to sell the foul. Welcome back to the NBA, I guess."
• DNP for PJ3: Perry Jones, who is facing an uphill battle for a roster spot with Boston currently carrying 16 guaranteed contracts, did not play in Friday's loss. Said Stevens: "He was healthy. I just wanted to see some extended looks for James [Young] and R.J. [Hunter]. But he'll play next week." Jones missed a game overseas while returning to the United States because of a death in his family and has played only 17 total minutes this preseason.
• Loose Balls: The Celtics played without Marcus Smart (illness) and Terry Rozier (knee). Both were hoping to return to practice Saturday. ... Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder both sat out the second half to rest. ... Rookie R.J. Hunter made only 2 of 7 shots but continued to make the sort of plays that suggest he'll compete for minutes. The Celtics experimented with him at point guard while shorthanded and Hunter struggled a bit in that role. ... James Young, a first-round pick last season, had one of his better nights this preseason, putting up 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting over 15:57. His shot has defied him at times in summer league and the preseason, though his defensive improvements have often been noted by Stevens. ... Rookie second-round pick Jordan Mickey put up six points, six rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes. ... Corey Walden has played the most of any of Boston's four training camp invites. Stevens offered praise after Walden ran some point and handed out a pair of assists over 10:23. "I think he's played pretty well in these games, so hats off to him," Stevens said. ... Camp invite Levi Randolph played the final 26 seconds and completed a three-point play during his cameo.