Last night was a prime example of why some people think the NBA is a joke.
When the mild-mannered Mike Gorman, who goes out of his way to try and not criticize the officials, lest he encourage or validate the emotional outbursts of broadcast partner Tommy Heinsohn, is verbally scratching his head in wonderment over just what the referees are calling, you know something is very wrong. At one point Gorman started to say something, and then just said something along of the lines of “I’m not going to even try and guess at what they thought they saw there.”
What has me scratching my head this morning is the fact that this is just not discussed in the newspapers. The topic is hot among fans who watched the game, so you know that it is something that readers want to read about. If someone had this morning chronicled the questionable calls and non-calls from last night, and tried to put them into context and show how they impacted the game, don’t you think that would be a popular column today?
Instead, all that is really mentioned is Doc Rivers’ ejection, and blanket statements that the technical fouls and ejections are not an excuse for the Celtics losing. Which they’re not. But the ejection is just such a tiny sliver of what was happening last night. It was embarrassing for the NBA. The league makes a big stand about players coming off the bench, whether there is an altercation or not. After a big Joe Johnson shot in the fourth, the entire Hawks bench ran out onto the court, to the point that it looked like a timeout had been called. There hadn’t been. The game just went on. Balls that obvious went off the knee of the player out of bounds right in front of an official were called the other way, Rajon Rondo got ridden out of bounds by two Hawks, and he was called for stepping out of bounds. I actually thought Heinsohn kept his composure pretty good on the air.
Lost in all of this is that the Hawks are damn good, Joe Johnson is a silent assassin, and the Celtics just match up terribly with them. I do not want to take away anything from the Hawks, who once again made huge shots down the stretch, especially Johnson. Those were all factors in the Atlanta win as well, but for no one this morning to mention all of the bad calls last night is inexcusable.
Julian Benbow has the Hawks coming alive in the third quarter after Celtics coach Doc Rivers was ejected. Mark Murphy says that despite the competition and emotion that the Hawks bring out in the Celtics, the Celtics still don’t think of them as a rival. Robert Lee has the third quarter technicals turning the tide for the Hawks. Chris Forsberg blames Doc Rivers and the Celtics tempers for the loss. A. Sherrod Blakely says that the Hawks own the Celtics. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics still aren’t afraid of the Hawks. (Maybe they should be.) Jim Fenton has Rivers getting ejected last night after working hard all season to avoid technical fouls. Tony Lee has the Celtics just able to get the job done in the second half.
Gary Washburn looks at a young, confident Hawks team that has beaten the Celtics all three times the teams have played this season. Steve Bulpett says that you can’t blame the technical fouls and Rivers’ ejection for the Celtics loss last night. What about all the rest of the curious calls and non-calls? They sure added up. Rich Levine casually mentions the “Bennett Salvatore Show” last night, and that “most of the talk” will be about that. Well, why not write more about what most people will talk about regarding last night’s game? Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics have been easy prey for the Hawks this season.
Paul Flannery says that Tom Thibodeau won’t want to add this game to his resume – another overlooked factor in the lost. Taking over with seven minutes to go in the third quarter, Thibodeau didn’t substitute once the entire rest of the game. Flannery notes that the four starters minus Scalabrine all logged 40+ minutes on the second game of a back-to-back.
Benbow’s notebook has sitting out with a sore foot last night, and injury that may sideline him for a week. Murphy’s notebook has Kevin Garnett set to return in about 10 days after resuming workouts yesterday. Lee’s Celtics Journal has more on KG. Blakely’s Celts notes has more on Doc’s ejection, and Wallace sitting out. Fenton’s notebook and Doyle’s notebook have more on Garnett’s latest supposed 10-day return. (The Celtics really need to stop making projections as to when KG will be back. It’s tiring. This more of the same from last season. He’ll be back when’s he’s back. Leave it at that.)
Patriots coming in separate post.