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Monday, April 19, 2010

Celtics star Garnett ejected in heated playoff opener

BOSTON (AP) Kevin Garnett's lack of composure didn't lead to a loss. Miami's did.

Boston's emotional leader was slapped with two technicals after he elbowed Quentin Richardson in the jaw with 40 seconds left in the Celtics' 85-76 victory over the Heat in their NBA playoff opener Saturday night.

Garnett faces a possible suspension and could miss the second game Tuesday night in Boston.

He said he was concerned that Paul Pierce, who had fallen in front of the Miami bench, had hurt his shoulder and wanted to clear space around him. Richardson came by and said something and Garnett struck him on the left side of the face with his left elbow.

"I was just concerned about Paul. You make your bed, you have to lay in it," Garnett said about a possible suspension. "I am smarter than that. I have to keep my composure in a situation like that."

The Heat's loss of composure lasted much longer.

Leading 61-47 with 7:02 left in the third quarter, they fell behind 71-68 with 3 minutes gone in the third. They finished with 22 turnovers that resulted in 38 Boston points.

"The damage for us was done long before (the skirmish)," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We just did not show a lot of composure. . . . To play to that kind of pressure, a little bit of duress, a little bit of adversity, we did not respond well to it."

Before his ejection, Garnett had played well with 15 points and nine rebounds. One of the NBA's noted trash talkers, he found himself in the middle of a swarm of Heat players when Pierce fell down. There was shoving and technicals were called at first against Miami's Udonis Haslim and Boston's Glen Davis.

Then Garnett and Richardson got into it with Jermaine O'Neal nearby.

"I was trying to get over there to take the ball out of bounds," Richardson said. "I said to Jermaine, 'He (Pierce) is OK,' because I knew nobody touched him. Is he taking a break like he does so many times?"

Dwyane Wade had a simple explanation: "We're in the playoffs, that's all. Just a couple of basketball players acting tough."

Trailing 44-41 at halftime, the Celtics held the Heat to 32 points in the second half.

Cavaliers 96, Bulls 83

In Cleveland, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal have only one goal, and they moved one step closer to their objective Saturday.

James had 24 points and four blocks and a slimmed-down O'Neal, playing for the first time since Feb. 25, scored 12 points in 24 minutes to help top-seeded Cleveland beat Chicago.

O'Neal looked remarkably sharp despite missing the Cavs' final 23 regular-season games after tearing a thumb ligament.

Derrick Rose had 28 points and 10 assists for the Bulls, who trimmed a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to seven in the fourth.

Hawks 102, Bucks 92

In Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 22 points and Mike Bibby had 19 for Atlanta.

Jamal Crawford added 17 points for the Hawks in the first postseason appearance in his 10-year career. Rookie Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee with 34 points.

Nuggets 126, Jazz 113

In Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored a playoff career-high 42 points and J.R. Smith's fourth-quarter flurry of 3-pointers helped the Nuggets beat Utah in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoff series.

Anthony, whose previous playoff high was 41 points against Dallas in the second round last year, benefited from the absence of Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who re-injured his strained left calf in practice Thursday and won't play in the series.

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