Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
In a calm, precise motion, Brad Stevens secured the lid on the marker that he used to draw up plays on a dry erase clipboard.
Then the Celtics coach placed the marker and the clipboard down on the scorer’s table and began walking toward Marc Davis.
Stevens had been barking at Davis for most of Saturday night here, unhappy with Davis’ officiating during the game between the Celtics and Sacramento Kings.
But with 35.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter of his team’s 105-98 loss to the Kings at Sleep Train Arena, Stevens had one last thing to say, the tipping point coming after Davis had ejected one of Stevens’s players, Gerald Wallace.
Stevens did not run toward the well-muscled official, who stood only a few feet away. Stevens did not remove his dark jacket. He did not raise his hands or his voice.
The coach who is well known for keeping his composure held onto it, and what he said to Davis was brief but also pointed and direct – he got his point across.
When DeMarcus Cousins drew his 5th foul mid-way through the fourth quarter, it looked like the Celtics were about to capitalize on another Boogie meltdown. It was 85-84 Kings at that point, the Celtics had the momentum, and Cousins was clearly agitated.
Then, the referees decided they didn’t want Cousins to leave the game. They swallowed the whistles on a few obvious fouls, and even let him get away with an extended-arm shove of Humphries, which is an automatic technical foul in today’s NBA.
Stevens fumed from the sideline. At one point, the courtside microphones caught Stevens complaining to the officials that Cousins was being protected from fouling out.
When it came time to get tossed from the game, Stevens calmly walked up to Davis, voiced his opinion knowing he’d go, and he left. He took the time to congratulate the opposition before he left, and then he walked off. No histrionics, no stream of f-bombs. It was just a low-key, almost polite Midwestern gentleman’s ejection.
“Excuse, Mr. Davis? I think the way you’re officiating this game is a gosh darn disgrace. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to go fornicate with yourself. Now if you wouldn’t mind, I’d really appreciate you ejecting me so I can start on a strongly worded letter to your superiors.”
I would actually argue that the point Stevens should have gotten ejected was when he started complaining about Cousins being protected. Personally, I’d have made more of a scene [this is where people who know me feign surprise] and let each ref know that the whole world is well aware that Cousins has already committed his 6th foul and his 2nd technical foul and yet they refuse to eject him. And then once I was tossed I probably would have yelled something like “see how easy it is? Maybe now try it on their guy!”
But that’s me, and I’m an idiot blogger. Stevens is a first year coach trying to build a reputation. He’s got a team full of young players for whom he needs to set a good example and he’s got to make sure he has the respect of the referees a few seasons from now when the wins and losses really matter.
Now Stevens gets to look his guys in the eye and say he only got tossed when the game was over, even though he wanted to lose it sooner. And despite the crappy officiating, he kept his cool until the end. When you have a team that misses 12 free throws and loses by 7, you need to have that ammo in your pocket… you need to be able to tell the guys “yes, the officiating was pretty shitty, but you could have still won the game despite it, so keep your cool when it’s happening and do you job.”
I bet Stevens apologized to his team for being ejected, too. Because he’s just a swell guy. A swell guy who get ejected like a boss.
Page 2: Sully’s got a mild concussion
Jared Sullinger spent last night at the Celtics team hotel, attempting to recover from the symptoms of a concussion that also may keep the forward out of tomorrow’s game at Utah.
Sullinger, after taking a shot to the head late in Friday’s loss to the Lakers, woke up here yesterday morning with dizziness and a headache. That doesn’t bode well for the one game remaining on the trip.
“I don’t know the exact diagnosis, and what the standard recovery time is,” coach Brad Stevens said before his team’s 105-98 loss to the Kings last night. “I knew it in school very well, and I assume it’s similar now, which would make Utah unlikely.
Not much to say about this other than this is the ultimate “take no chances” situation. If he needs to sit a few games… a week.. two weeks… whatever it is. You take ZERO chances even with a mild concussion.
I’m sure I’m not breaking any news to the Celtics medical staff, but I’m just sayin’. Get well soon, Sully.
And Finally… Gerald Wallace is…. content?
“I think so,” Wallace said. “We’re more than halfway through the season, and I think the adjustment for me is more comfortable. I’m more content.
“I think the biggest part of helping me settle into that role is having great teammates, having guys that are willing to listen, guys willing to take heed to what you’ve got to say and trying to go out and do what you’re helping them with. And like I said, my teammates are great. They listen. They communicate. They try their best. I think the main thing is being a part of them has made it a lot easier for my transition.”
Things were somewhat testy at first as Wallace delivered his brand of tough love in public settings. After a preseason game against the Timberwolves in Montreal — a preseason game — he called the club out for selfishness and a lack of effort. Eventually the other Celts warmed to him.
“I think it took a little time,” Wallace said, “but that’s what anybody coming in new is going to have to go through. It takes a while for people to understand where you’re coming from. It takes time around the guys not just on the court, but away from it, too. Guys have to understand that what you’re saying is not just negative or anything mean. Things that might get said in the heat of the moment might not be the right way to say it, but it’s trying to help you.”
There you have it. Angry, ornery Gerald Wallace
has been beaten down is ok with things now. After spending parts of the early season spouting off after every loss, Wallace either realized that there’d be so many losses that he’d run out of material quickly, or he’s warmed up to his situation. Of course there’s a third possibility: that Wallace realized he just doesn’t have it anymore, and that his All Star days are so far gone that no contender would be willing to pay close to his contract even if he’d help them just a little bit.
I’ve always liked Gerald Wallace. He’s a tough son of a bitch who always works his ass off. But time, and injuries, have taken their toll. He can still show flashes, but he can’t come close to earning his contract.
I don’t know what the Celtics have planned for him, but he won’t finish his contract in Boston. They’ll do something to move him somehow, whether it’s finding a sucker to absorb his deal or using the stretch exception at some point, he’ll be gone.
Figures, once he started to get content, they’ll figure out a way to move him.
The rest of the links
ESPN Boston: Birthday break for readapting Rondo | Globe: Celtics still have plenty at stake this season | CSNNE: Stevens on Rondo’s impact | Stevens: Deadline wasn’t a distraction | WEEI: Weekly draft watch: Ainge’s inactivity at the deadline might be costly