Celtics G Rajon Rondo ejected for meltdown; suspension coming for bumping ref?

By Ben Golliver | Blogger

The Boston Celtics lost Game 1, Rajon Rondo lost his cool, and his ugly departure could cost his team their point guard for Game 2.

During the final minute of Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks, Rondo was ejected after angrily disputing a foul call and bumping an official, an apparent violation of the NBA's no-contact rule that could lead to a 1-game suspension.

The scene unfolded with the Hawks leading 78-74 with 40 seconds remaining. Celtics forward Brandon Bass was called for a foul by referee Marc Davis as he attempted to tie up Hawks forward Josh Smith during a loose ball situation. Rondo, standing on top of the play, signaled for a jump ball and, upon seeing the foul called, he punched his fist in frustration and got in Davis' face. He was then hit with a technical foul.

Rondo continued to berate Davis and, during the shouting, his chest bumped Davis' back while Davis relayed the foul and the technical to the scorer's table. Rondo appeared to unintentionally trip on Davis' foot as he barked at him, which contributed to the chest bump. At that point, Davis ejected Rondo from the game.

The NBA's no contact rule with a referee reads as follows: "Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate."

Rondo's availability for Tuesday's Game 2 in Atlanta will be determined by the league office. They will obviously hone in on the question: Was his contact of Davis "intentional"?

To answer that question, the league will likely note that the bump came as a result of his moving towards Davis and that it came after an extended series of aggressive actions and words. Contact occurred because of Rondo's movement, not Davis', and he certainly was intending to forcefully and directly dispute the call. For those reasons, it's difficult to see how Rondo avoids a suspension here.

Rondo, for his part, said the contact was not intentional.

"I didn't intentionally chest bump him," Rondo said, according to SBNation Boston. "I know the rules."

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com writes that there's no telling what the league will do.

The Hawks went on to win Game 1, 83-74. Rondo departed the game with 20 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals on 10-for-18 shooting in 43 minutes.
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