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Celtics Get 'Kind Of Crazy' On Defense, Send Marcus Smart Against Knicks' Porzingis

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics' latest loss, a 120-114 defeat at the hands of the New York Knicks, was certainly a unique game that featured a handful of wild moments.

First there was Robin Lopez, who made a few trips up the court without one of his sneakers. When he tried to get it back, Amir Johnson swatted it away. The C's center is a firm believing in no easy layups, so he was probably just looking to pick up another block in the stat sheet.

That wasn't too wild and crazy, but then we saw Carmelo Anthony having to leave the game after he hurt his knee running into a referee. It occurred in the second quarter after Melo made a nice feed to rookie Kristaps Porzingis, so we're still trying to figure out what's more rare: Getting hurt running into an official or Melo actually making a pass (all kidding aside, Melo has become a much better passer this season).

But maybe the craziest part of the game came right out of halftime, as the Celtics faced a seven point deficit and were looking for any kind of spark they could muster. Brad Stevens decided to go small, real small, after surrendering 59 points in the first 24 minutes, which included 20 points by Porzingis.

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley both took the floor for Boston, which is nothing new. But instead of sending 7-footer Kelly Olynyk out to attempt to stop Porzingis (Olynyk was dreadful in the first half and only played 11 minutes on Tuesday), it was 6-foot-4 Marcus Smart tasked with slowing the rookie sensation, who stands 11 inches taller than the Boston guard.

"Kind of crazy," said C's head coach Brad Stevens after the loss, "But [Smart] likes those types of challenges."

The funny thing is the guard did better than anyone else against Porzingis, frustrating him with some pesky defense despite the obvious mismatch. The Knicks looked disjointed upon first seeing the matchup, burning a timeout just 19 seconds into the half. Porzingis went one-of-two in limited minutes with Smart velcroed on him down low, and his frustration showed when he was whistled for a foul after knocking Smart down following a missed layup. He picked up his fourth foul less than a minute later, shortly after finally banking one in over Smart, and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench.

After what looked like a relatively easy and smooth first half for Porzingis he cooled off considerably after halftime, going three-of-six from the floor and finishing a minus-10 in the second half. The Celtics rallied with him on the bench for much of the third quarter, and took a 106-105 lead after he fouled out with 2:44 left to go in the game.

It's hard to find many silver linings from Tuesday night, with more frustrating lapses on both ends of the floor in the final minutes leading to Boston's fourth straight loss. But Stevens can now confidently go to his small lineup if he needs a spark on the defensive end, and Smart should have even more confidence that he can go toe-to-toe against almost anyone.


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