Skip flips while House is on fire in Boston

By Stephen Alford
Updated: May 7, 2009

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will travel to Orlando to play the Magic Friday night in Game 3 of the second round of the Eastern Conference NBA playoffs.

After coming back from a 28-point deficit before losing to the Magic 95-90 in Game 1, and then blowing out Orlando in Game 2 112-94, the Magic will have their backs against the wall in Game 3 as they play without the services of starting point guard Rafer “Skip-to-My-Lou” Alston.

The former AndOne! star was suspended for Friday’s Game 3 for slapping Eddie House in the back of the head with 49.7 seconds left in the third quarter just after House hit his 19th point of the game.

“Eddie made the shot, I’m standing out of bounds letting him run by, he runs by, (and) shoots an elbow at me,” is how Alston described it after the game. “It was just a natural reaction. You know I tried to get him, grab him before he ran back down the court.”

“I have no hard feelings toward Eddie. I have a lot of respect for him. But when you’re having a good night, kicking our behinds, he shot the elbow at me in my stomach. It was just a natural reaction. Again, I have no hard feelings toward Eddie at all.

H ouse, who torched the Magic for 31 points on 11-for-14 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc, saw it a different way.”That’s what happens when you start busting somebody’s ass. They get upset like that and they resort to bush league tactics,” said House in an interview immediately after the game.

“We’re above that. We’re not into that. We’re just going to play basketball, and keep trying to put wins on the board.” House became the first Celtic to score 30 points or more off the bench in a playoff game since Kevin McHale recorded 30 back in 1993

“He’s a guy who thrives on emotion and rightfully so,” Alston continued. “He hits big shots and makes big plays. He (was) having a terrific night. Again, it’s nothing toward him.”

“It was just having any guy in this league somebody throws an elbow at you and hits you in the stomach with an elbow for no apparent reason; most guys would have a natural reaction to it.”

Referees are sure to be on guard in Game 3 since there has been a trend of overly physical play throughout the playoffs so far – see Dwight Howard’s elbow to Samuel Dalembert in the Magic/76ers series, the Kobe Bryant/Ron Artest and Derek Fisher/Luis Scola exchanges in Game 2 of the Lakers/Rockets series, Rondo’s play against Brad Miller and Kirk Hinrich in the Boston/Chicago series.

“The referees see the first things; usually they just don’t call it or anything like that. They’ll see if the guy just lets it roll off his chest but they end up calling the second foul or anything after that happens.”

“Yeah, I’m concerned (about not playing in Game 3). I can’t do much about it now. You know, the NBA is cool. They’ll look at the play at its entirety and they’ll see that he threw the elbow first at my stomach.”

“You regret it, you know, when you sit over on the bench. You think about it. But again, any human being, a guy throws an elbow at your stomach; you’re going to react in some kind of way.”

Apparently, Alston didn’t think the contact was incidental.

“Oh, he did it deliberately. He did it deliberately. Usually, he’ll run down the court and then show his emotions, but right there I was just standing out of bounds and shot as he was sprinting down the court.”

“He made a three. He loves celebrating. You know I watch basketball all year. Usually, he’ll run down and celebrate, yell a few things. But this time, like I said, he made the three, I was standing out of bounds, he shoots the “bow” and tries to take down the court.”

“Everybody seen what happened,” said House. “I don’t play that type of basketball. I think he was just trying to do anything to try to stop me and tonight it was going down.”

“He gets under everybody’s skin when he gets us going,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “It’s not personal. I mean he just gets so wound up into the game and that’s good. I’m a big believer in emotion. And some people will take it the wrong way, but I’ll take it as long as he’s on my side.”

House agreed about getting under the skin of opponents.

“I think I must have. I mean, all I did was hit a shot and start turning the other way and get hit upside the head. Guess he was tired of getting hit upside the head,” a sarcastic House quipped.

“I think what gets under his skin is defensive pressure, the not able to get easy looks and from that we’re getting easy looks, so one thing after another and you look up at the scoreboard and it’s a big lead that will bother you.”

Now that the Cs know what rattles the Magic, look for the Green (and House) to continue to get under the skin of Orlando and return to Boston with elimination on their minds.