ATLANTA – Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 83-74 victory over Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday night, the final minute turning ugly when Celtics star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official.
The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the first half, were clinging to a four-point lead when Rondo lost his cool with 41 seconds remaining – and may have cost himself a chance to play Game 2 Tuesday night.
Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Smith tussling for a loose ball, with both players sprawled on the court out beyond the foul line. Rondo screamed at official Marc Davis, who quickly called a technical. Rondo then bumped Davis with his chest and was tossed out. A suspension could be coming, too.
Rondo scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists, but none of it mattered when he lost his cool. The Celtics not only lost this game, they might’ve lost their floor leader for the next one. He clearly stuck out his chest and struck the official, which will almost surely draw the wrath of NBA Commissioner David Stern.
I deserved the first tech, Rondo said. I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him, but that’s what it appears to be. It’s out of my control.
Getting in some immediate lobbying, Celtics coach Doc Rivers saw things a bit differently than the replay showed. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t think Rondo deserves a suspension.
I’m always worried, but I would be surprised if that happens, Rivers said. I thought Rondo was walking toward Marc, and Marc turned back toward him, and that’s when Rondo bumped him. ... That’s all it was, in my opinion. But we’ll see.
LAKERS 103, NUGGETS 88: In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Andrew Bynum posted the Lakers’ first playoff triple-double in 21 years with an NBA postseason record-tying 10 blocked shots, and Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the tempo.
Bynum, the Lakers’ All-Star center coming off his best regular season, also had 10 points and 13 rebounds while incredibly blocking 11 percent of the Nuggets’ 90 shots.
Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, but the NBA’s second-youngest playoff roster struggled to run.
Game 2 is Tuesday night.
SPURS 106, JAZZ 91: In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 28 points and San Antonio won its first playoff opener in four years.
Tim Duncan added 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Spurs dodge another early playoff letdown. Paul Millsap led Utah with 20 points. The Jazz hung close until the third, when the NBA’s top three-point shooting team began burying Utah with three in a two-minute burst to finish the quarter.
Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio.