Not such a smart play
Marcus Smart is the most confounding player on the Celtics. It’s impossible not to love his hustle and tenacity, but his reputation for flopping and taking questionable shots can leave you scratching your head. And Smart has never taken a shot more questionable than the one he took in the third quarter of Monday’s game against the Pelicans.
After a tie-up, Brandon Ingram and Payton Pritchard had a jump ball at midcourt with 0.3 seconds remaining on the shot clock. The Pelicans had possession before the held ball, so they were the ones who had to worry about the shot clock. Their only chance to get something out of the possession would be to win the tip and throw up a prayer. They knew that, and so Ingram didn’t even bother jumping for the ball. New Orleans was ready to let the Celtics have possession and get back on defense.
Smart was also aware of how difficult it would be to get a shot off in that situation. He just wasn’t aware that the shot clock would reset once the Celtics got possession. When Pritchard tipped the ball back to him, Smart hurled it wildly toward the basket.
All Celtics color commentator Brian Scalabrine could do was ask, “What are you doing?” and chuckle for more than 20 straight seconds.
It wasn’t so funny for Smart’s teammate, though. Kemba Walker seemed totally confused as he spoke with Smart after the play. I wish I could read lips better, but all I could make out was Walker telling Smart, “It was their ball.”
The play came at a key juncture of the game, with the Celtics trailing by four with 16 minutes left, but it wasn’t Smart’s only mental lapse of the night.
With about 30 seconds to go, Smart tried to draw a foul with a flop but couldn’t get the whistle. During the next stoppage, he had a discussion with referee CJ Washington and must have said something Washington didn’t like because he was issued a technical foul and ejected.
The Celtics went on to lose, 115–109. The loss put them one game below .500 at 23–24, tied with the Heat for seventh place in the East. Not great for a team that entered the season with title aspirations.
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