Evan Turner took notice of the NBA’s assessment that the foul called on J.R. Smith against Turner in the waning seconds of the Celtics’ improbable 104-103 win over Cleveland on Friday night was an “incorrect call.” Turner vehemently disagrees.
Turner drove to the basket with the Celtics trailing, 103-99, and scored a layup with 4.9 seconds left as Smith was called for bumping him. Turner missed the free throw, but the Celtics got the rebound and then the victory.
After a league review, the NBA labeled the contact “incidental.”
“Nah, nah, nah, I heard about [that], he pushed me in my back,” Turner said Sunday. “It wasn’t crazy. There’s 150 calls each game that people aren’t going to be happy about. We could scream out that we actually didn’t push LeBron [James] when he went to the line 48 times [actually 17]. And [the NBA] could write that [James] didn’t push Tyler [Zeller] eight times when Tyler stopped him at the rim.”
Turner insisted the Celtics earned the win, although Cleveland appeared upset with the foul on Smith.
“The ref called the right call,” Turner said. “[The Cavaliers] just lost on a buzzer-beater. Asterisk? No. They get enough calls. They got three of the best players in the world. A great coach, great fans. I felt bad for the Sixers. I won’t feel bad for the team that’s got one of the best players who ever lived.
“You can take losses. It’s only February, not May.”
Regarding that same game-defining sequence Friday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he instructed Marcus Smart to intentionally foul Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov, but not to jump on Mozgov’s back, which could be ruled a flagrant foul.
The Celtics trailed by 2 when Turner attempted his free throw, and the Celtics planned to foul Mozgov, a 73.3 percent foul shooter, in order to get another possession. But when Turner missed the free throw, Smart forced a scrum for the rebound and the ball went off James out of bounds, setting up Avery Bradley’s winning 3-pointer.
Stevens said the league distributed a memo warning teams about jumping on opposing players’ backs. But that hasn’t been ruled a flagrant foul — yet.
“It was in an e-mail from the league and it basically said if you [jump on an opposing player’s back], it would be a flagrant foul,” Stevens said. “At least that’s what I think I read. I’m glad I read that one. We wanted [Smart] to go after the ball and he made a real push to get into the ball and he and Jae [Crowder] kept it alive.”
Stevens is on the league’s rules committee and attended their September meeting.
Meanwhile, Turner maintains that he missed the free throw intentionally. That caught Stevens by surprise.
“Really? That wasn’t my suggestion,” the coach said. “Maybe he came up with that plan on his own. It was a good plan. It worked.”
Rajon Rondo made his second visit to TD Garden as a visiting player. He was announced last in the Kings’ introductions and PA announcer Eddie Palladino gave Rondo his home cadence, “Rajonnnn Rondooooo.”
The crowd gave him a warm ovation. That wasn’t lost on Rondo.
“It’s always great to play here,” he said. “It’s classic Boston fans. Since Day 1, since I’ve been here, it’s always been that type of reception. I don’t think they view me as an enemy.”
Karl is ‘energized’
George Karl is rumored to be on the hot seat in Sacramento as the team continues to show wild inconsistency. The Kings are on the periphery of the Western Conference playoff race, yet have allowed 128 points in each of their last two games.
Karl, 63, who has overcome cancer, said he has no intentions of retiring.
“I’m actually at a stage right now that I’m energized trying to figure out how to get better at what I’m doing,” he said. “I was out [of coaching] for two years, and it’s changing fast. I don’t think I’m ever going to want to get out of the gym. Give me a position in the gym. I still like pushing the buttons. I don’t think about [retiring] very much.”
The Kings were shorthanded. Rudy Gay was out with a sprained left ankle, and Ben McLemore was scratched with a sprained right wrist . . . DeMarcus Cousins picked up a first-quarter technical foul for arguing a no-call on a drive to the basket, his 11th technical of the season. Players receive a one-game suspension on the 16th technical and every other one after that.