BOSTON -- As Rajon Rondo found out Wednesday night, the Nets' days as a bunch of pushovers are done.
They're not about to be bullied. By anyone. Particularly not by Rondo or Kevin Garnett.
"We are not going to back down," Deron Williams said after the Nets' 95-83 win over the Celtics at TD Garden, a game that was marred by a first-half brawl involving Rondo and Kris Humphries. "It's not about being tough guys or anything like that. We are just not going to back down from anybody. We did a good job of keeping our composure."
Rondo certainly didn't. With 29.5 seconds left in the first half and the Nets leading 51-36, Rondo tried to muscle Humphries after the Nets power forward fouled Garnett as he was driving to the basket.
The Celtics point guard took umbrage with Humphries' foul, even though replays showed Humphries didn't hit Garnett all that hard. While Garnett lay on the floor looking at the referee, Rondo decided to play the role of enforcer.
The 6-1 Rondo shoved the 6-9 Humphries, starting a melee that spilled three rows deep into the stands directly behind the Celtics' basket. Rondo threw at least one punch and was definitely the aggressor, but Humphries tried his best to defend himself, pushing Rondo back. Garnett and Gerald Wallace also got into it as the fracas mushroomed.
A jersey-less Rondo -- Humphries had snatched it off -- emerged from the mass of bodies still all wound up, likely realizing his night was about to be over. He was ejected for throwing a punch, trudged off to the Celtics' locker room with a security escort, and is probably facing a suspension.
Humphries and Wallace also were thrown out of the game. Both declined to comment afterward. "Rondo initiated everything that proceeded after the foul," crew chief James Capers said. "And when he and Humphries go into the stands, they are involved in a fight. Fighting is an automatic ejection."
Humphries was slapped with a technical foul right after Garnett fell to the floor, in part Capers said, because the foul already had occurred before the contact. In essence, Humphries was deemed to have hit Garnett twice and was slapped with a technical for that.
"When Kevin goes to the basket, he is rerouted by Humphries," Capers said. "So we had a personal foul for the reroute. Kevin is trying to continue -- to get a continuation by shooting -- and now Humphries hits him. Because the whistle blew, it was a dead-ball situation, and that's a technical foul for contact during a dead ball. . . . What proceeds after that is a fight, so he's ejected."
Capers said Wallace and Garnett also received technicals for escalating the event, and since Wallace had picked up one minutes earlier, he was ejected for collecting his second.
Avery Johnson didn't seem too concerned that Wallace or Humphries could be facing suspensions. "Not really," the Nets coach said. "They tossed the guys. I think they'll take a look at it. We'll probably get an idea what's going on tomorrow."
Garnett and Brandon Bass had 16 points apiece for the Celtics (8-7), who likely will be without Rondo for a while. "I have no idea," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I haven't seen anything, so I don't know anything. We'll wait and see."