Summer League Recap: Celtics 76, Magic 67

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By John Denton
July 10, 2014

ORLANDO -- In a compelling matchup of Top-10 point guards from the June NBA Draft, Orlando’s Elfrid Payton stuffed the stat sheet with several contributions, but Boston’s Marcus Smart had the bigger second half to lead his team to the victory.

Smart scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, buried consecutive 3-pointers during a key stretch and converted a dazzling scoop shot to help the Celtics top the Magic 76-67 and overcome a near triple-double performance by Payton.

``We’re good friends, we’ve been playing against each other for a long time and we’ve played with each other,’’ Smart said of Payton. ``Just to see him and being able to compete against him on a high level was great.’’

The Magic passed on Smart with the fourth pick in the draft and instead selected forward Aaron Gordon and then traded for Payton, who was drafted 10th by Philadelphia. Smart went sixth to the Celtics and played his best game of the week on Thursday against the Magic.

Smart made just one of his first seven shots, but he responded in the clutch for Boston (3-1). With the Celtics leading 56-54, Smart drilled two straight 3-pointers for an eight-point lead. After Orlando had gotten back to within 68-65 on two free throws by Payton, Smart crossed-over a defender, spun on another and softly banked a left-handed scoop shot off the glass with 1:11 to play.

``I’ve always been told if you want to be a good shooter – and I have a good shot – you can’t worry about the last play. You have to move on,’’ Smart said of his second-half recovery. ``That’s Ray Allen, the best shooter in the NBA, I think. That’s why he’s so good. He can miss four in a row, but you know that fifth shot is just made for him. You just have to keep shooting.’’

The Magic (2-2) lost a second straight game after opening the Orlando Pro Summer League 2-0. Standout guard Victor Oladipo didn’t play on Thursday, freeing up time for Payton, who had eight points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Magic.

``I’m just trying to help my team any way that I can – defensively, scoring, passing and rebounding. Whatever it is that we need, that’s what I try to do,’’ said Payton, who also turned the ball over seven times.

Payton and Smart were both on Team USA’s Under-19 squad that won gold in the FIBA World Championships. Also, they competed against one another in several pre-draft workouts for teams, so Thursday’s game was a renewal of their battles. Smart made just five of 14 shots on Thursday and missed seven of nine threes, while Payton didn’t take a shot in the first 20 minutes and made three of seven tries in the game.

Smart has been projected as a top 10 pick for two years, while Payton was one of the draft’s biggest risers over the past 12 months.

``I guess maybe down the line (they will be linked), but I don’t think anyone thought I’d enter the draft (this) summer,’’ Payton said with a laugh. ``I guess as time goes on … (they will be compared).’’

In four summer league games this week, Smart has averaged 13.5 points, but he’s shot just 28 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent from 3-point range. Orlando’s Payton has averaged 7 points, 6.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds, but he is also turning the ball over 4.5 times a game.

Gordon had seven points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot in 31 minutes. It was a big improvement over Tuesday’s game when he failed to register a field goal, rebound or assist. He made three of 10 shots and missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

``I was trying to be more active, but some of the shots weren’t dropping,’’ Gordon said. ``I’m going to continue to stay confident and continue to shoot the same shots and just shoot them better.’’

Seth Curry had 15 points and four 3-pointers off the bench for the Magic. Boston guard Phil Pressey, who has played well this week, missed 14 of his 15 shots and all six of his 3-point tries.

Orlando led 32-29 at the half behind some stellar shooting from Curry and a couple of hustle plays from Gordon. Curry, the brother of Golden State star Steph Curry and son of Hornets legend Dell Curry, drilled three first-half 3-pointers for 11 points early on.

Curry, who spent last season in the NBA Developmental League with Santa Cruz, is hoping to get a training camp invite from a Magic team in need of shooting. Orlando made just 35.3 percent of its 3-point shots last season, ranking it 21st in the 30-team NBA.