What do you think about when you hear the name Marcus Smart? Hustle.
His hustle played the biggest role in Boston’s 107-96 victory over the Lakers Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Boston had led by as many 21 points during the first half of the contest, but Los Angeles, to its credit, kept plugging away. By the 8:36 mark of the fourth quarter, the Lakers had clawed all the way back to within three points at 89-86.
Brad Stevens stuck with his second unit, while Kyrie Irving watched from the sideline. That decision surprised some, but in the end, it worked out for the better.
Smart swished home a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:30 left in the game to double Boston’s lead up to six.
The team’s next possession came on a fast break, during which Marcus Morris went up for a tough layup that was missed, and the forward didn’t receive a well-deserved whistle from the onlooking referees.
Per usual, Smart never quit on the play. He raced the length of the court behind his teammate and flew in to get a hand on the loose ball. No one could reel the loose ball in, and Smart and LA’s Brandon Ingram wound up tumbling to the floor. Smart, however, somehow wound up with both of his mitts wrapped around the ball, and before a Lakers player could reach in to force a jump ball, Smart kicked it out to Terry Rozier on the wing.
Rozier immediately attacked the basket and was fouled on his layup attempt. He made both of his free throws to make it an eight-point game.
Smart’s hustle rubbed off on his teammates, because shortly thereafter, Morris got in on the offensive rebounding attack. He flew in from behind the Lakers after Rozier missed a 3-pointer, and he was able to cause enough commotion on an offensive rebound attempt to knock the ball out of bounds off of LA.
The Celtics retained possession of the ball, and a timeout was called.
That timeout allowed Irving to check into the game, and he wound up scoring four big points down the stretch. But not before Smart could contribute one more hustle play.
Smart stepped into the paint at the defensive end of the court to take a charge at the 5:44 mark of the period. But it wasn’t just any charge that he took; it was a charge taken against the biggest player on the court.
Smart sacrificed his body and was bulldozed by 7-foot, 270-pound center Brook Lopez. Surely, it hurt, but Smart popped right back up off of the floor as his teammates cheered him on.
Irving scored his final two points of the game on Boston’s following possession to push Boston ahead 100-90 with 5:28 left in the contest. Its lead would never drop to fewer than eight points from there on out.
The C’s closed the contest out on a 19-5 run over the final 7:30 of the contest. It started with Smart’s 3-pointer, and it was fueled by his hustle.