July 22, 2018
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Rondo: Wade ‘sold’ hard foul in season opener

The Associated Press

WALTHAM, Mass. — Rajon Rondo said Thursday that Dwyane Wade “sold” a flagrant foul late in the season opener and denied that it was a “punk play,” as the Miami Heat guard claimed.

“I don’t think it was a hard foul,” Rondo said after practice on Thursday. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up and they drove to the hole; I didn’t want to give up a layup. It’s as simple as that. I didn’t yank him down.”

Rondo was called for a flagrant foul in the final seconds of Miami’s 120-107 victory on Tuesday night when he grabbed Wade around the neck as he drove to the basket. Wade appeared ready to confront Rondo, but former Celtic Ray Allen eventually pulled him away.

Wade called it a “punk play.”

“We’re basketball players,” Wade said afterwards. “If you want to go do something else, then go do something else. Boxing and all those things, this is not it. We’re basketball players here. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We’ll see next time we play.”

Rondo denied that the foul was all that rough, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that when he played it might not even be a foul.

“I thought it was nondescript. I really did,” Rivers said. “It wasn’t that hard. So I think it’s much ado about nothing, personally. … I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But I guess it is.”

Rivers also brought up a play in the 2011 playoffs when Wade took Rondo down and dislocated his elbow.

“All the dirty plays you’ve seen him play in the past … so that’s what it is,” Rondo said.

Rondo picked up a technical earlier in the game for complaining about a non-call when he thought Wade hooked him on the way to the basket. But he declined to comment on whether he gets fewer calls from the officials than more established stars.

“What are you, trying to get me fined?” he said. “I cannot talk about the refs.”

The Celtics play the Milwaukee Bucks in their home opener on Friday night.

Meanwhile, in Miami, Wade doesn’t typically get off to super-fast starts, and one game is hardly enough to say that his 10th NBA campaign will be any different.

Still, opening night seemed to be a good sign.

Wade scored 29 points against Boston, giving him the highest-scoring effort in the first game of any of his Miami Heat seasons less than four months after he had surgery to repair a long-troublesome left knee. And with LeBron James missing much of the second half with leg cramps, the Heat needed to Wade to deliver, which he did as the reigning champions rolled.

“Way ahead of schedule,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, who sat out the second day of training camp and missed little else. “It was absolutely the right decision on his part this summer to take care of his knee with that procedure, and then he did his part of making sure he came into camp in the best condition he could.”

Before Tuesday, Wade’s previous first-game-of-a-season high was 26 points. And he was thrilled not only to get his championship ring, but to put all the buildup of ring night behind him.

“Now we can focus in on getting better as a team,” Wade said.

The Heat were off Wednesday, set to resume practice on Thursday before their scheduled flight to New York for a Friday night game against the Knicks. As of Wednesday afternoon, that game was still planned, even though the New York-Brooklyn game on Thursday had been postponed as the city continues dealing with the aftermath of the storm that slammed into the Northeast this week.

Wade scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Heat keep the Celtics — who nearly erased a 19-point deficit — at bay.

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