MIAMI – Paul Pierce got hit — and then run.
Boston's captain was ejected with 7 minutes left in Game 1 of the Celtics' Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday afternoon after picking up two technical fouls on separate plays in the fourth quarter.
The ejection came after a play where he set a screen for Ray Allen against Miami's Dwyane Wade, who was running at him with a good amount of speed. Both players appeared to take offense to the force of the collision, Wade stepping toward Pierce after the play as the Boston forward was saying something to him.
Referee Ed Malloy called a double-technical — and in Pierce's case, it was his second, meaning his night was over.
"It's what we call a verbal taunt," crew chief Dan Crawford said. "He directed profanity towards Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul."
Miami won the game, 99-90. Game 2 is Tuesday. Pierce did not speak with reporters after the game.
Pierce's first technical came after he was fouled by James Jones on the right wing, a play where Jones made some contact with Pierce's head.
He took exception with that, as did Celtics coach Doc Rivers afterward.
"James Jones was a clear flagrant," Rivers said. "He went right for the head and grabbed. And I thought Dwyane Wade's was an absolute flagrant. He had no intentions ... he was just trying to run through Paul. I told Paul, 'You still don't react.'"
The game was aired by ABC, and analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy both thought Pierce's ejection was not warranted.
"You can't toss him out," Jackson said on air.
"I don't think that he could have said anything that would warrant being thrown out of this game," Van Gundy said. "What does it matter? No one hears it. He's talking to Dwyane Wade. You're ruining the end of this game over something that doesn't need to be addressed like this."
The first technical foul was because Pierce made contact with Jones during a dead-ball period. Pierce's head made light contact with Jones during that skirmish, but Crawford said it stopped short of being called a head-butt, which may have merited further sanctioning from the NBA.
"He approached Jones and got right in his face," Crawford said.
In the Celtics' locker room, the sense was that their captain was wronged.
"If anything, you let it go," forward Kevin Garnett said. "The play was called, the foul, whatever was called, it wasn't something that escalated or felt like that needed to be blown out of proportion."
Reserve forward Glen Davis was more succinct.
"A dirty shot," Davis said, adding, "We're awake. Most definitely we smell what's going on, the coffee is brewing. We'll be back Game 2 and it'll be a great game."
Pierce finished with 19 points and seven rebounds on 6 of 14 shooting. It was the second playoff ejection of his career, the other coming against the Indiana Pacers in 2005.