After nearly 48 hours of speculation about a penalty, the NBA suspended New York’s Carmelo Anthony for one game for his actions following the Celtics’ 102-96 win over the Knicks Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Following a game’s worth of trash talk with Kevin Garnett, a furious Anthony tried to confront Garnett outside the locker room and again at the Celtics’ team bus.
The two had been assessed technical fouls with 9:03 left in the game after having to be separated. Anthony bolted from the court following the game, hoping to confront Garnett at the locker room but was restrained by teammates.
He again tried confronting Garnett at the bus, and a video on TMZ showed the two yelling at each other, with several people between them. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and assistant coach Tyronn Lue were pushing Garnett back to the bus as Garnett said, “What are you talking about?” to Anthony.
Garnett was not suspended or fined. Anthony told reporters in New York Tuesday that he lost his cool and amicably settled matters with Garnett during a phone conversation.
When asked about the suspension following the Celtics’ 87-79 victory over the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night at TD Garden, Garnett left the interview without comment.
“There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable for a player to confront an opponent after a game,” said NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson in a statement. “Carmelo Anthony attempted to engage with Kevin Garnett multiple times after Monday’s game and therefore a suspension was warranted.”
Rondo, who went to the team bus after serving his one-game suspension and had his warm-ups on, said he didn’t want the situation to escalate.
“I’m in the video? What did I have on?” he joked. “I didn’t want anything happen to the big fella. I had my teammate’s back, but nobody was looking for a fight or anything. We just tried to break it up. I was just there for my teammate.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “I don’t believe guys should ever be suspended. But it’s not a surprise. But we [coaches] get in trouble for sitting players and then we suspend players, it’s the same thing. If you’re a fan, you’re not happy with that.”
Rondo returned for Wednesday night’s game after being suspended one game for bumping official Rodney Mott during Saturday night’s win over the Hawks in Atlanta.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” he said. “The comment I made to Rodney made him laugh, so I think more so it was just what happened [the bump], but I don’t know if anybody has been suspended for that, either. So the rep I’ve earned, I have to deal with it.”
Rondo said he has a good relationship with Mott, who did not call Rondo for a technical foul.
“I don’t know many refs by first name, but I know Rodney, and like I said, I don’t think it was that big of a deal,” Rondo said. “I don’t think he did, either. Things happen.”
The NBA said Rondo refused to cooperate with its investigation, and he acknowledged that he hung up on the league official who called to discuss the incident.
“Aw man, I get suspended for a phone hangup and people just get away with anything in this league,” said Rondo, making a reference to Anthony. “Oh my goodness, so that’s the same thing as I did?”
Wednesday was the first anniversary of Jeff Green’s surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, the beginning of his long journey back to the Celtics and the NBA. Green was detected with a heart abnormality in a routine training camp stress test in December 2012, and the surgery saved his life. Green was able to recover quickly enough to participate in training camp just nine months after the procedure.
He scored 14 points Wednesday night with two thunderous dunks that thrilled the crowd, including one on Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal.
“It took about six months for the chance to heal permanently,” Green said. “After that, it was just how I come along. It was never a timetable.
“I didn’t want to put pressure on myself if I said I want to be ready and playing by September. I just try to do as much as I can in a day to let my body recover and get back on the court.”
Rivers had not been optimistic about Green returning.
“I just never thought he would play again,” Rivers said. “I really didn’t. When you hear the word ‘heart,’ it’s bad, I guess. But it’s been proven you can come back and be good.”
Rivers said Jason Collins is battling a sore hamstring and he will try to limit the center’s minutes. Collins played almost five minutes Wednesday . . . Wednesday was O’Neal’s first game back in Boston since spending most of last season with the Celtics sidelined because of an ailing wrist. O’Neal underwent surgery on the wrist, then went to Germany for blood-spinning treatment on both knees in the offseason before signing a one-year contract with the Suns. He is tied for second in the NBA with eight technical fouls despite playing in just 29 of Phoenix’s 37 games.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.