Atlanta jumped out 1-0 on the Celtics after their 83-74 win, and Josh Smith (22 points, 18 rebounds) continued his season-long transformation into a heady, almost trustworthy player who is capable of making perimeter shots, but the real story of the game was Rajon Rondo chest bumping a ref. The Celtics point guard – the guy Kevin Garnett would later call “The head that forms Voltron” – had 20 points and 11 dimes, but with under a minute to go, a loose ball call had steam coming from Rondo’s ears and consequentially, he walked right into official Marc Davis. After being immediately ejected, Rondo later complained that he deserved the first tech for arguing, but not the second for bumping, saying it was an accident. Rondo told reporters Davis stopped suddenly, and he couldn’t stop his momentum, tripping and falling into the official. Honestly, there’s basically no way this dude doesn’t get suspended, which could suddenly have the Celtics looking at a big hole … Atlanta jumped out 20-6 and led by as many as 19 in the first half as the Celtics apparently hadn’t closed up their tab at Magic City fast enough. They did eventually wake up with a late run just before the break, punctuated by a crazy Rondo backdoor bounce pass to Avery Bradley, who couldn’t make open threes or open layups but hit a wild reverse finish … There was a point in the third quarter where the Hawks pushed the lead back up behind… Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins? Yep. The two were rolling like Kareem & The Big O, and Collins even hit a couple of jumpers. No words could describe it … And Memphis was schooling the Clippers in the nuances of playoff basketball in the nightcap, disintegrating them until a 26-1 run by L.A. delivered what could’ve been the single. Greatest. Comeback. In NBA History. Unreal. After Rudy Gay‘s shot fell short in the closing second, the Clippers walked out with a 99-98 win. It was fitting Reggie Evans hit the shot to put them up in the fourth quarter after being down 27. The dude was a complete beast (13 boards in 20 minutes), and between Evans, Nick Young (19 points and two huge transition threes to make this W possible) and Eric Bledsoe, L.A. caught everyone by surprise in the final eight minutes, even us watching on TV. In all of our years as a magazine, the Clippers’ crunch time D was some of the best we’ve ever seen … Grit N’ Grind was in full effect in the first half. The Grizz manhandled the Clippers in every sense of the word, and the crowd was thirsty for blood. They were making shots, playing physical and forcing L.A.’s stars to hit the bench with early foul trouble. Meanwhile on the other end, Chris Paul was out there flopping and flailing while Blake Griffin looked like Forrest Gump after Jenny showed him her titties for the first time … In the third quarter, it got even worse. Mike Conley hit three straight triples to open the second half, pushing the lead back up to 21 (at that point, Memphis was 8-for-10 from deep), and a few minutes later he hit another one after shaking Caron Butler into a 360 dance … And Butler also fractured his left hand last night. Are we going to get a major injury every night? … We’re out like Rondo’s explanation.
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