Rondo-less Celtics try to even series vs. Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) - Rajon Rondo lost control in the final minute of Game 1, and that means he won’t be on the court for Game 2.

The NBA announced Monday that the Boston Celtics‘ star point guard has been suspended one game without pay in the opening-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Rondo will miss Tuesday night’s contest in Atlanta after sticking out his chest to bump referee Marc Davis while disputing a foul call with 41 seconds left in Boston’s Game 1 loss. Speaking during a playoff game in Indiana, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league had no choice other than to suspend Rondo.

“I can’t allow that,” Stern said. “If we don’t protect our officials in this fast-paced game with very large players, we’ve lost a lot in my mind.”

The league’s assist leader scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists before he was tossed, leaving Boston with a huge hole in its lineup. This is Rondo’s second suspension of the season, following a two-game ban in February for throwing a ball at an official.

“That’s part of the package with our team. We’re a volatile team in a lot of ways,” coach Doc Rivers said during a practice at Georgia Tech. “Rondo is an emotional player. … I like his fire, but sometimes he burns you.”

Boston lost both games while Rondo was suspended, but the team is 8-5 overall in games he missed this season.

“This is a resilient basketball team,” Rivers said. “That’s what we’ve been all year. Sometimes, it takes this stuff, for whatever reason, to snap us into playing the right way. I don’t know whether we’re going to win or lose, but I can guarantee you we’ll be ready to play.”

Rondo was about the only bright spot for Boston in the series opener. He was the lone player hitting consistently from the outside, knocking down 10 of 18 shots, and he did his usual superb job as a floor leader. It was his 24th consecutive game with double-figure assists, and he turned it over only one time.

Then, with the Celtics having trimmed a 19-point deficit down to just four, Brandon Bass went to the court tussling for a loose ball with Atlanta’s Josh Smith. Boston thought it should’ve been a jump ball, but Davis called a foul on Bass. Rondo was outraged, screaming something that immediately drew a technical. With Davis‘ back turned, the guard jutted out his chest to make contact with the official.

Davis signaled another technical and ejected Rondo from the game. The Hawks held on for an 83-74 victory.

“This was a loose ball foul. Period,” Stern said. “The foul called was a clear foul. It was a loose ball foul. Rondo missed it, he got very upset and he lost it. He got a `T’ for one and then he bumped the official.”

In Stern’s opinion, there was nothing accidental about the bump.

“When you put yourself in position to bump somebody, it’s intentional,” the commissioner said. “If you’re asking if the ref bumped back into Rondo, no. “

Atlanta won’t have to worry about Rondo at all in Game 2.

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