NEW YORK — Doc Rivers was furious, livid, outraged at the officiating in the Celtics’ 87-71 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
Specifically, Rivers was angry at the foul calls against Kevin Garnett, who scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but was saddled with foul trouble from the start. He picked up two fouls in the first quarter and ended up playing 24 minutes.
“Listen, I thought the fouls on Kevin, first of all they were horrendous,” Rivers said after the Celtics fell in to a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday.
“And secondly, I thought they had a huge effect on us,” Rivers continued. “Kevin had three fouls that . . . I was . . . I mean, him not being on the floor, playing 24 minutes and never getting your rhythm, where you could see, it looked like he was going to have a game, it hurt us.
“That’s just the way it goes. There’s nothing I can do about it now. I thought if it could’ve gone either way on three of those, they all went against Kevin. I think that’s tough.”
Garnett was a key part of the Celtics’ plans coming into the game. They wanted to establish him early, unlike in Game 1. Garnett did make the Celtics’ first shot, but he picked up two quick fouls and had three by halftime.
He picked up another foul in the third quarter, after which he slammed the ball to the court several times out of frustration.
“At times, it’s frustrating, but fouls are part of the game,” Garnett said. “Refs are calling things but it’s an aggressive time in postseason play. I just have to be consistent and position myself not to foul so much.”
The Celtics were not the same with Garnett having to play tentative.
“Everything we do surrounds getting the ball to Kevin inside and working from there,” Paul Pierce said. “When he gets into foul trouble we have to find ways to make adjustments, giving other people a chance to step up. When he’s not in the game we really don’t have an inside presence.”
Said Jason Terry of the impact of Garnett being in foul trouble, “Oh, tremendous, tremendous. He’s a big presence for us and he was not able to be aggressive like he wanted to, picking up those early fouls.”
Brandon Bass had a different take.
“You know, it didn’t really affect us,” Bass said. “When someone gets into foul trouble or someone goes down, guys have to step up.”
Lee: ‘I don’t know’
Courtney Lee played 4 minutes, total, and didn’t score or attempt a shot.
“I don’t know,” the guard said when asked why he played so few minutes. “That’s the truth. Quote that. I don’t know. No, I’m not surprised. I mean, he’s the coach. It’s his decision. I don’t know what decisions he’s going to make. You’ve just got to be ready if he does call your name. That’s how I go into every game. That’s how I’m going to approach the next one.”
Lee said his frustration level was high “because we lost. But because of the rotation, that doesn’t bother me.
“If we had won, it would have been a good thing. But it doesn’t bother me at all. Like I said, because we lost, everybody’s frustration level is up.”
On the attack
After the Celtics’ defensive breakdown in the third quarter yet again, Bass said they need to come out and attack, unlike the past two games.
“We’ve just got to have that attack mentality,” Bass said, “and I think we’ll be talking about something different right now, like, ‘You guys were awesome in the second half,’ ‘Man, I don’t know how they’re going to stop Paul, I don’t know how they’re going to stop Kevin.’ Something like that.”
The Celtics said they’d get out and run more in Game 2, which is one of two things Boston said it would do before the game that it actually did during it. The Celtics had a 17-2 advantage in fast-break points as they ran and passed the ball up court quickly after getting stops. The Celtics also turned 11 Knicks turnovers into 20 points. On the flip side, the Knicks turned 12 Celtics turnovers into 15 points. Pierce had 5 turnovers. He had 6 in Game 1 . . . Shavlik Randolph made his first career playoff appearance. He played 3 minutes and grabbed 3 rebounds. Chris Wilcox, an 11-year NBA veteran, also made his playoff debut and was the Celtics first big man off the bench. He played 6 minutes and grabbed 1 rebound . . . Jordan Crawford had wryly said in the days leading up to the game he didn’t take a shot in Game 1 because he wanted to make his first career playoff shot. Well, he did. Crawford made a 3-pointer with 2:57 left in the first quarter, shortly after checking in. He scored 10 points off the bench, shooting 4 of 11 and 1 of 5 from 3-point range . . . Former Yankees slugger Bernie Williams played the national anthem on a guitar before the game.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes