Marcus Smart may not be the prototypical wing player in today’s NBA, but his drive, his intense will to win and an otherworldly ability to lock down the opposition have nonetheless endeared him to the Boston Celtics faithful.
On Monday night, however, the popular former No. 6 overall pick tested the patience of even his most ardent supporters.
Make no mistake — a lot of things went wrong during Boston’s latest setback, a 115-109 home loss to the sub-.500 New Orleans Pelicans. And the team’s big trade deadline acquisition, Evan Fournier, was a negative throughout the night, missing all 10 of his shot attempts in a scoreless Celtics debut.
However, Smart’s epic fail in the third quarter was the play of the game (for all of the wrong reasons).
It was the kind of play that lives on in infamy.
Smart’s Lack of Clock Awareness Kills
The Celtics were trailing New Orleans 80-76 with 4:31 left in the period when the two teams met at center court for a jump-ball. While the end result of the play was seemingly not in question — even if the Pels had won the tip, they had just 0.3 seconds left on the shot clock — Smart somehow defied the odds.
With NOLA seeing no need to even vie for possession, rookie Payton Pritchard won what was an uncontested jump-ball, tapping it back to Smart. However, instead of simply initiating the team’s offense, he inexplicably launched ball over the hoop and out of bounds from center-court.
Apparently, the seven-year pro had convinced himself that it was his team facing the shot-clock expiration.
As a result, the Pelicans, who had attempted to concede a seemingly lost possession, were awarded the ball and a fresh 24 seconds to shoot.
NBC Sports Boston’s color commentator and former Celtic Brian Scalabrine was dumbstruck by the play, exclaiming, “What are you doing?!” and then laughing audibly in the wake of Smart’s ill-conceived heave.
Check it out:
The Fail That Keeps On Failing
As bad as Smart’s play was, he made it even worse by appearing to argue with teammate Kemba Walker about what had transpired. But the failure didn’t end there for the Celtics mainstay.
With 24.7 seconds left and his team trailing by just five points, Smart unsuccessfully attempted to draw an offensive foul on the Pels’ Steven Adams during an inbound pass. He responded by getting himself ejected, which not only gave NOLA an opportunity to extend its lead, but precluded him from providing any help in Boston’s final comeback bid.
On the other hand, he played a key role in multiple runs that helped keep the Celtics in the game. So, despite a tough shooting night — he was 6-for-15 from the field — and a couple of mental lapses, Smart’s status as a true gamer remains firmly intact.
Smart finished the game with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Entering Monday’s action, he was averaging 13 points, five assists, three boards and 1.5 steals per contest.
Boston was led by Jayson Tatum, who dropped 34 points in a losing effort.