Pierce lets team down with ejection, lack of smarts

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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MIAMI -- Paul Pierce tried to be the tough guy Sunday in the Game 1 playoff matchup between the Celtics and Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. When he got hit, he got angry and aggressive. And then he was shown the door.

Pierce was ejected after receiving two technical fouls, both in the fourth quarter. He didn't like the way James Jones hit him when defending a jump shot and then how Dwyane Wade tried to run through him on a screen.

Boston coach Doc Rivers said Pierce had a right to be upset, but he can't put himself in a position to get thrown out. Rivers said each foul should have been called a flagrant on the Heat.

"I told Paul you still don't react," Rivers said following Miami's 99-90 victory. "I thought as a whole we were the retaliating team tonight. We were never the first hit team."

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The first technical came when Pierce was hit by Jones with 7:59 left in the game. Jones came down on Pierce and hit him in the head after Pierce's pump fake got Jones in the air. Pierce then turned and got in Jones' face with what looked like a head-butt, but Jones just backed away. Both were given technical fouls.

"It was contact during a dead ball," referee Danny Crawford said. "He approached James and got right in his face. There wasn't a head-butt, but he got right into his face after a hard foul."

Jones said he was just going for a "wrap-up foul" to make sure Pierce didn't get off a shot after he hit him.

"He got a little emotional, and we got into something that should have really been nothing," Jones said. "It happens at times."

The second technical happened less than a minute later. Pierce was setting a screen on Wade for Ray Allen, but Wade ran right into Pierce, putting a shoulder into his chest. Pierce flexed at Wade as both exchanged words, and baseline official Ed Malloy assessed double technical fouls. Since it was the second one on Pierce he got the mandatory ejection.

Wade knew he was wrong for running into Pierce, but he wouldn't elaborate on what Pierce said.

"It's a bunch of gibberish," Wade said about what Pierce muttered after the play. "I was just trying to get through a screen. Paul was there, so I ran through it. Foul on me. And Paul had some words for me. The ref thought it was a little too much and gave him a tech."

Crawford called it a "verbal taunt."

"He directed profanity toward Wade," Crawford said. "It just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul."

Pierce, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds before leaving, wasn't around to answer questions after the game. He left that for his teammates, who were disappointed in his behavior.

Allen said Pierce was trying to show he's "tough" when he was hit by Wade. Instead, Allen would like to see Pierce show he's smart and just walk away.

"It's us learning how to get out of those situations and back away from them," Allen said. "We can't put the game in the referee's hands. We have to be smarter out there."

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