Rondo kept pushing and he and Humphries fell into the crowd beneath the basket. The dust-up was over fairly quickly, but more players became involved. When it came time to dish out punishment, Rondo and Humphries were ejected, as was Nets forward Gerald Wallace, who had drawn his second technical foul.
The altercation left Humphries scratched and wondering on Twitter where he might get a tetanus shot in Boston. For Rondo, the ejection was particularly painful. He left with only three assists, ending his streak of games with 10 or more assists at 37. Rondo had nothing to say after the Nets had won the game, 95-83. He left TD Garden silently, surrounded by security.
Punishment by the NBA is likely to be swift, with the Celtics bracing for a possible suspension of Rondo. The official line, from crew chief James Capers, Wednesday night, was that Rondo “initiated everything that proceeded after the foul” and the ejections for Rondo and Humphries were mandatory because “fighting is an automatic ejection.” Wallace’s involvement in the brawl brought his second T of the game, also an automatic ejection. As for what happens next, the NBA has not decided what further discipline, if any, is needed.
Coach Doc Rivers was asked after the game if he was disappointed in him. “Well, yeah, I don’t think anybody should get thrown out of a game, so we all have to keep our emotions,” he said (via the Boston Globe). “Hell, we didn’t come to play as a team. That was awful, basketball-wise. You know, if I’m Brooklyn and the league, you’ve got to think we’re pretty soft. We’re a soft team right now. We have no toughness. That [fight’s] not toughness.”
“There was a lot of swings going on down there,” Coach Avery Johnson said (via the Globe). “I think guys were going to try to rescue their teammates. That’s what kind of team we have. We’ve got guys that, if you’re in an alley fight, we’ve got a lot of guys on our team that you’d like to be in there with.”
Deron Williams, who scored eight points in the game, defended the Nets’ feistiness. “We never back down. Rondo went up and grabbed [Humphries] at his neck. He has scratches on his neck, on his back.”
Even Nets reserve center Andray Blatche got into the basketball part of the act. He has done a lot of yapping about the bad old days with the Washington Wizards all week long, but Wednesday night he was all business, scoring 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, “That’s what family and brotherhood is all about,” Blatche said, refreshingly opting not to mention the Wizards. “That was one of the biggest things I’ve seen so far, where we all have each other’s backs on the court.”
With the victory, the Nets are 10-4, tied with the Knicks atop the Atlantic Division. And, if you’re looking for a rematch, circle Christmas Day on your calendar.
“This ain’t the Girl Scouts, this ain’t the Boy Scouts,” Garnett said. “This is the NBA. It’s going to be a physical part of it. And everybody’s going to have to adjust to it and you’re not going to be able to beat it. That’s period. Point blank.”