ORLANDO, Fla. -- One of the much-analyzed themes this week at summer league has been Marcus Smart's struggles with his shot. He has connected on just 28 percent of his field goals through four games, but overcame some early shooting woes Thursday to score 12 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter of a 76-67 win over the Orlando Magic.
Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga, tasked with running the summer squad, was asked if Smart was the type of guy who could miss 10 shots in a row, but before the reporter could finish the query, Larranaga jumped in to quip, "I hope not. I hope he’s the kinda guy that makes 10 straight."
A more serious Larranaga soon added: "I think we’re seeing that he’s a pretty mentally tough kid. That’s not easy for anyone, to miss some shots and keep confidence. But I think he’s had such tremendous success throughout his life, so he can probably look back on times when ‘Oh, I was having a rough game, and I came back and hit the game-winning shot.’ I think that’s how he approaches every game."
Despite making just 3 of 17 3-pointers (17.6 percent) entering Thursday's game and misfiring on a handful of triples in the first half, Smart made consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth frame. In a one-possession game with 75 seconds to play, Smart provided maybe the highlight of Boston's summer league slate when he did a spin move to split two defenders and get to the baseline, then put up a little lefty scoop that kissed in off the glass.
"I just kinda reacted to what the defense put in front of me," shrugged Smart. "That was the move. To be honest, I didn’t know I was going to scoop it with my left, but I’m glad it went in."
So how does Smart forget about those shots he misses?
"I think I can shoot the ball, but you can’t worry about the last play, you gotta move on," said Smart. "Ray Allen, the best shooter in the NBA today, that’s why he’s so good. He can miss four in a row, but you best believe that fifth shot he takes, he’s going to take it like he just made four in a row. You just gotta forget about that last shot."
Quiet Johnson makes loud impact
As is his way, Chris Johnson has quietly put together a solid summer showing and Thursday he scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting with six rebounds and a block over 29 minutes. Johnson tried to pick up some of the slack with Kelly Olynyk getting a rest day and looked for his own shot a bit more.
His unselfishness -- and his potential -- isn't lost on the team's coaching staff.
"I like Chris Johnson a lot," said Larranaga. "I think he plays as hard as any player that I’ve ever been around and he’s very unselfish. His shots haven’t fallen, he hasn’t gotten a ton of shots early in the week. But he’s someone that we know can make shots, he’s made shots in big-time NBA environments. Whether he makes shots or not, he’s going to give 100 percent effort and that’s what we love about him."
That included one particularly noteworthy chase-down block on Thursday (though he was whistled for a foul).
"Awesome [effort] and that’s not out of character," said Larranaga. "It wasn't even a big deal for him. He saw he fouled, he jumped right back up and was like, ‘Let’s go on to the next play.’ He’s fun to be around, he’s a great teammate, great competitor."
Johnson is playing on a nonguaranteed contract and Boston's early summer maneuvering has crowded the depth chart. For his part, Johnson is ignoring the moves around him and trying to put his best foot forward.
"I’m here for summer league, I’m not worrying about [the roster]," said Johnson. "Everything will take care of itself. The NBA is a business. I just go out there and do my thing, and everything will take care of itself."
Bertans OK after scary collision
Celtics summer leaguer Dairis Bertans was hospitalized briefly Wednesday night after being stretchered off the court following a collision with the stanchion late in the third quarter of a win over the Detroit Pistons.
Tests, including a CT scan, were negative on Bertans and he was released from the hospital. He's sore and not expected to play in Boston's final game on Friday, but he expressed optimism in his prognosis.
"Right away, I felt it’s not so good. I was laying on the floor, [the doctors] just told me not to move," explained Bertans, a native of Latvia who had put together a nice showing at summer league. "[The medical staff] kind of wrapped me up, just to make sure everything is OK, but that’s why, on the way out, I gave the thumbs up that everything is OK."
He added: "I’m good. I’m really good. It’s nothing serious. I can’t really move my neck, it’s kind of stiff, but it’s good."
The 24-year-old Bertans was averaging 6.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1 assist per game in 37 minutes of floor time over three appearances. Because of his pro experience overseas, Bertans looked more comfortable than most young players on the court at summer league before the injury forced him off.
"It’s actually really disappointing," said Bertans. "That was the thing I was worried the most about -- because so far I’ve been playing kind of good. I wanted to keep playing, but [the injury] stopped it right there."