Smart's Fourth Quarter Powers Celtics to Victory
ORLANDO – With leading scorer Kelly Olynyk watching from the sideline Thursday night, Marcus Smart put the Boston Celtics on his back and carried them to a 76-67 win over the Orlando Magic.
Smart was a dominant force during the fourth quarter. He scored 12 points during the frame – just five shy of Orlando’s team total – while shooting 3-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
“This coaching staff and my teammates, they have a lot of confidence in me,” Smart said after the win. “Even though my shot wasn’t falling early, they just told me, ‘Keep shooting the ball and keep playing.’ That’s what I did, and I guess the basketball gods rewarded me.”
Smart had opened the game by shooting 1-of-7 from the field during the first half. He was also 0-of-4 from long range over the first two quarters. The rookie attempted only one shot in the third quarter before catching his groove in the fourth.
Smart’s impressive stretch of play came at just the right time. This game seemed destined to go down to the final seconds before Boston’s youngster took over.
The Celtics and Magic went back-and-forth over the final five-plus minutes of the third quarter and first four-plus minutes of the fourth quarter. Neither team led by more than five points during that span.
Smart changed that trend when he canned back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Celtics on top 62-54 with 4:29 remaining in the game. Those were his first points of the quarter, but certainly not his last.
Orlando fought back to make it a three-point game with 1:25 remaining after Elfrid Payton nailed a pair of free throws. Shortly thereafter, Smart responded with that may have been the play of the week.
Smart faced a double-team at the top of the key and chose to dribble away from it to his left, but he was met there by a third defender who attempted to trap him. The point guard instinctually split two of the defenders and attacked the basket down the left side of the lane. When he was met by yet another Orlando defender, Smart spun over his right shoulder and to the baseline before flipping up a left-handed shot off the glass that caught nothing but net.
“I kind of just reacted to what the defense put in front of me and that was the move,” said Smart as he described the play that drew oos and ahhs from every onlooker in the gym. “To be honest, I didn’t know I was going to scoop it with my left, but I’m glad it went in.”
That sensational basket put Boston back on top by five and its victory was never in jeopardy from that point on. Smart and Edwin Jackson combined to shoot 6-of-6 from the free-throw line during the final 29.3 seconds of the game to put the victory on ice.
Thursday’s win gives the Celtics a 3-1 record on the week, which is tied for the league’s best record through four games. They will not, however, play for the summer league title.
The league’s point system has slotted Boston into the third place-fourth place game, to be played at 10 a.m. on Friday. The Celtics will face either Detroit or Memphis in that game.