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C's meltdown allows Hawks to fly off with win

BOSTON -- After being ejected in the third quarter of Monday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers opened his postgame press conference by joking that volatile forward Rasheed Wallace scolded him in the locker room for getting thrown out of the game.

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 [10] 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."