BOSTON — It was a scene no player wants to witness.
Marcus Smart, playing in just his fifth game for the Celtics, was hauled off the TD Garden court on a stretcher during the fourth quarter Friday after suffering what initially appeared to be a serious ankle injury. As the hometown crowd chanted his name, Smart extended a thumb — the universal gesture that, yes, he was going to be OK.
That’s all fellow Celtics point guard Phil Pressey needed to see.
“Once he put his thumbs up, that let us know he’s still good and in good spirits,” Pressey said after the game. “We just wanted to get this win for him.”
The Celtics did just that. Boston held off the injury-plagued Indiana Pacers for a 101-93 victory, with Pressey and reserve forward Gerald Wallace playing major roles down the stretch.
“I think what it was is God works in mysterious ways,” forward Jared Sullinger said. “Smart went down, Phil was out there, Gerald was out there. Those two haven’t been playing a lot this season, and they brought a different type of spark to the game and we just fed off of them.”
The severity of Smart’s injury was unclear at the time (reports early Saturday morning indicated that it was just a sprain), but it was still a difficult moment for his teammates, who gathered around the rookie as medical personnel strapped him onto the gurney.
“It was very difficult,” forward Jeff Green said. “You hate to see a teammate go down, especially when he’s playing well. Marcus is a soldier, though. He’s going to get himself back together quick. I know he’s going to work hard to get back.”
That sentiment was common throughout the Celtics’ locker room after the game. Sullinger succinctly summed things up.
“Marcus Smart,” Sullinger said. “End of discussion, it’s Marcus Smart. He’s a guy that’s been through a lot. He’s going to fight his way. He’s mentally tough. He’s been mentally tough since he got here.”
Photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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