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Jones Knows When It’s Time to Get Technical : After He Is Ejected, His Fired-Up Celtics Almost Climb Back in the Game

Times Staff Writer

Locked in the Celtics’ dressing room at halftime of Game 3 Sunday at the Forum, Boston Coach K.C. Jones screamed until someone finally heard him and let him out for the second half.

When Jones screamed in the third quarter of Game 5 Friday night at the Forum, he got locked back in the dressing room. This time, he didn’t get to come out until the game was over.

It was one of the few times a coach has ever had to appear at a postgame press conference during the championship series and ask the media what happened.

He knew the score. Lakers 120, Celtics 111. But that was about all.

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“What in the hell went on in the second half out there,” he said with a deadpan expression.

Reporters laughed.

But Jones carried on.

“I had no TV set,” he said. “No one came in and told me what went on. I was just sitting in the dressing room having a beer. Actually, the guy who should be here is Jimmy Rodgers.”

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Rodgers, the Celtics’ first assistant, had already been working overtime, taking over the bench duties when Jones was ejected with 8:03 remaining in the third quarter.

Jones had taken on Darrell Garretson, the chief NBA referee, and lost, which was hardly an upset. Garretson is undefeated.

Two technical fouls and Jones was out.

The argument, if you can call it that considering how one-sided it was, began when Jones thought Laker forward Kurt Rambis had fouled Larry Bird after the Celtic forward came down with a rebound.

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There was contact. Bird had to take a couple of stutter steps to regain his balance.

In itself, it didn’t even rank on the hit parade in this series.

But Jones thought the Celtics had gotten the short end of the officiating in the game’s first 28 minutes, in which the fast-breaking Lakers had run off to a 74-59 lead.

Seeing Bird nearly knocked to the floor, and hearing no whistle, was all Jones could take.

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“I said, ‘What’s going on out there,’ and before I got the sentence out, I got a technical,” Jones said.

“So I went on the court and asked why I got called for a technical. Darrell said, ‘If you don’t leave, you’re out.’ I said, ‘Why did I get a technical?’

“Toot, toot, you’re out. I tried to ask him again, and he said, ‘Two technicals, and you’re out.’ ”

So Jones went to the dressing room and sipped on a beer, not even staying to see Magic Johnson hit the two technical-foul free throws to give the Lakers a 76-59 lead.

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Afterward, he was still muttering about the calls he thought were blown in the first half.

He talked about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar goal tending a Kevin McHale shot and getting away with it.

He talked about Robert Parish being bumped out of bounds.

He talked about Danny Ainge being elbowed in the jaw by Abdul-Jabbar.

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“I guess that’s all right, too,” he said.

But what about the game, someone asked Jones.

“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I have no idea what went on out there. I’ll watch the films on the plane back to Boston, between naps.”

He will see the Celtics come from 18 points behind in the third quarter to within 8, then fall back again by 14 at the beginning of the fourth quarter and then struggle to within 4 with 3:55 remaining.

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Would the Celtics have made up those last two baskets if Jones had been on the bench to guide them?

The consensus in both dressing rooms was that the Celtics would never have woken up to come as close as they did if Jones hadn’t done something dramatic.

Laker Coach Pat Riley applauded his counterpart.

“It was at that point of the game when the coach had to make a stand,” Riley said. “He probably felt he had to ignite the team.”

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If that was what Jones had on his mind, Bird said it worked.

“If he hadn’t been thrown out, it would have been a blowout,” he said, meaning a blowout by the Lakers and not the Celtics. “That ignited us, got us going.”

But the Celtics couldn’t come all the way back, and, as far as Bird is concerned, their valiant effort went for nought.

“It doesn’t matter if we came from 40 points behind,” he said. “A loss is a loss.”

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He knew where to point his finger, at everyone in the Celtic dressing room.

“We made some mistakes individually and from the coaching standpoint,” he said. “From the coaching staff down to the last guy, we all made mistakes.”

But Bird said his criticism of the coaching staff didn’t include Jones’ early exit.

“Nah,” that’s the best thing K.C. has done in a long time,” he said.

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So now the Celtics are down, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series, with Game 6 Sunday in Boston. If a Game 7 is necessary, it also will played in Boston Tuesday night.

Bird said there is no if.

“We’re going to be ready for Game 6,” he said. “I just hope we don’t have a letdown for Game 7.”


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