C's meltdown allows Hawks to fly off with win
But Rivers turned serious about as quickly as he was tossed by referee Bennett Salvatore for arguing a flagrant foul call against Glen Davis. Boston led by double digits when Rivers got the heave and Atlanta, aided by five free throws from what amounted to three technicals and a flagrant foul, rallied for a 102-96 win at TD Garden.
"I told the guys after the game, No. 1, that's always on me," said Rivers. "I don't think I should ever get thrown out. I don't know when the last time I was thrown out was, actually ... So I don't care how bad you think the calls are at the moment, you know, somehow you have to try to rein yourself back in.
"Honestly, I reacted -- I was so shocked at what they were calling. I thought they were talking about whether it was a breakaway or not. The last thing I had in my mind was a flagrant. I didn't even think that was part of the discussion. So I was so surprised by that I reacted, and I never should have."
Rivers said he couldn't recall being that enraged before, particularly in a game.
"Maybe in a practice," he said. "But, no. Usually when I get thrown out, which is at least two years ago, usually I tell my coaches, 'Hey, I gotta go, I think our team needs a lift.' "
Celtics captain Paul Pierce said the meltdown shouldn't have had enough impact for the game to get away.
"The crowd really got into it and we knew it was going to be a tough game," said Pierce. "Regardless of the commotion, we still had the lead in our building. So there's no excuses, but I think we just failed to execute there in the fourth quarter.
"We gave them the momentum when we were up  and then we got the technical fouls. They basically cut the lead in half with free throws and it becomes a dogfight after that."
Davis said he was surprised by the call.
"I'm a big guy and it felt like I didn't intentionally do it," said Davis. "When I was coming down, I tried to hold him from falling. But the refs made a decision and I can't get mad or upset.
"The tempo switched. We let the game go that way. I just know we didn't win. We didn't finish the game like we were supposed to. We played a great first half, but we didn't play good in the second half."
As for Rivers being tossed and assistant coach Armond Hill also getting a technical in the aftermath, Davis simply said, "Emotions flare."
Play Podcast Boston College RB Andre Williams gives his takes on being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Eagles' surprising season, his health and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen weighs in on Doc Rivers' return to Boston, how Kobe Bryant's comeback has impacted the Lakers and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter covers the impact of Rob Gronkowski's injury, the Bears' win over the Cowboys, Alshon Jeffery's development, Chicago's QB situation and more.
Play Podcast Patriots CB Kyle Arrington talks about recovering the onside kick in the victory over the Browns, his team's comeback wins, New England's reaction to Rob Gronkowski's injury and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer dishes on the impact of Rob Gronkowski's injury, Tony Romo's style of play, Chip Kelly's coaching, Robert Griffin III's struggles and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck talks about the quality of officiating, Wes Welker's health, Rob Gronkowski's injury, the state of the Redskins and more.