With nine minutes left in the third quarter of the Celtics’ 115-83 loss to the Raptors on Friday night, Jayson Tatum went to set a screen on Toronto guard Fred VanVleet and knocked him to the floor.
A referee called Tatum for an illegal screen, giving the ball back to the Raptors. But first, Tatum took the ball and slammed it in frustration. He might have just been angry with himself, but it didn’t matter, because such a play results in an automatic technical foul.
Whether spiking a basketball or complaining to a referee, moments such as this one have become an issue for Tatum over the years, and he’s aware of it.
“Something that you’ve got to work on,” he said. “I don’t claim to be perfect at all. Far from it. I make mistakes all the time and I like to be held accountable for my teammates and myself and you guys. So I understand that that’s a recurring thing that myself and other guys got to get better at.”
Tatum had 10 technical fouls over 66 games two seasons ago and six over 64 games last year.
“You care, you’re playing hard, you get emotional,” he said. “You might not mean to do those things, but emotions get the best of you sometimes…A lot of people that have played this sport at that level would, I think, second that. But I’m not saying it makes it right. But stuff like that happens. I’ll be the first to say that I’ve got to do better and I’m not perfect.”
Crowd boos home team
When the Celtics’ 2-point deficit ballooned into a 20-point hole in the third quarter Friday, TD Garden fans began to boo. They continued to voice their displeasure for much of the second half, particularly when Toronto’s players stormed to the rim while facing little resistance.
Guard Josh Richardson, who was playing his first game in TD Garden as a member of the Celtics, mostly shrugged off the sour reactions.
“It didn’t bother me,” he said. “I’ve been there before so you’ve got to be professional about it. The people of Boston know basketball and know sports. It’s kind of like Philly when I was there, they know what’s going on and they know when things don’t look right and they let you know that. I don’t take offense to it. They’re being honest. It don’t look great, but maybe next game we do look great and they’ll be cheering us.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka told his players after the game that they deserved to be booed.
“And I think our guys know that,” Udoka said. “That’s what we appreciate about the fan base, as well. They’re going to be on us out there with our effort, and for the most part they just out-played us. When you get that result out there, I expect nothing less.”
Horford back on court
Al Horford returned Friday after being sidelined for nearly two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. The forward registered 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 25 minutes.
Horford said he was surprised by his coronavirus diagnosis. He said he mostly just stayed home, watched television, and spent time outside in his backyard. But he was not able to work out much, so his playing time was limited Friday as he works to regain his conditioning.
“I was just happy to get back out there with the group in front of our home crowd here,” Horford said. “I’ll have to continue to get to where I need to be as far as my wind and all that stuff. But I felt fine. Definitely a little tired at times there, but it was just good to be back playing with the group.”
Udoka said that Horford wanted to play longer, but the Celtics erred on the side of caution.
“He said he was fine,” Udoka said. “He was spirited out there. He was one of the guys that was competing harder. His legs might not have been there on the shots he shot short, but overall he was fine.”