WALTHAM, Mass. – Kevin Garnett doesn’t regret his role in a fracas by his opponent’s bench. Neither does the player he elbowed in the face.

Garnett paid a bigger price Sunday when the NBA suspended him for Tuesday night’s second game of Boston’s playoff series with Miami. The Heat’s Quentin Richardson was fined $25,000.

The pushing and woofing took place with 40 seconds left in the Celtics’ 85-76 Game 1 win Saturday night. Paul Pierce had fallen by the Heat’s bench, holding his right shoulder in apparent pain. Garnett leaned over, then held off Richardson, coming from behind, with his left forearm. Moments later, Garnett elbowed Richardson in the face.

“Not at all,” Garnett said calmly Sunday when asked if he regretted his actions. “I would hope if I was hurt or if I was down in that position someone would at least give me some space to sort of recover or to gather myself. That’s the only thing I was asking for.”

Richardson, one of Miami’s more emotional players, also shrugged off the idea of regrets.

“Me?” he said. “I didn’t do anything regretful. I didn’t throw any punches or swing on anybody.”

Garnett played well with 15 points and nine rebounds in his first playoff action since Game 6 of the 2008 NBA finals, a 131-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers that clinched Boston’s 17th championship.

He missed last year’s playoffs with a knee injury and Boston beat Chicago in seven games before losing to Orlando in seven in the second round.

“We know we can win. We know we can hold down the fort if KG is out a game,” Pierce said before the league announced the suspension early Sunday night. “We’re not one of those teams that when their star player goes down that’s an excuse to not play hard, not try to win the game.

“We’re a team that feels like with KG and without KG we’re supposed to win a game.”

Observers could view the altercation as the point at which playoff intensity soared.

They would be wrong, according to Pierce.

He said he already had that feeling.

“You’ve got to understand, both teams are playing for a championship,” he said. “There’s so much more at stake. It’s just like a prize fighter. When you fight for that goal, it’s not like the other fights. This has much more meaning.

“You’ve got to expect that tensions are going to rise, flare-ups, but the thing is just keep it in the framework of the game to where it doesn’t get out of hand.”

That may not be easy to do with players with the intensity of Garnett and Richardson. Still, their teammates appreciate them for that quality.

“That’s Q. I love him for it. Sometimes he can drive me crazy with it,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “He’s a little bit more rah-rah than me. The guy’s tough.”


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