Rest for the weary and other Celtics summer league notes
|07.18.12 at 3:11 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — After playing seven games in nine days, the Celtics’ summer league team is getting the day off. After knocking off the Bulls, 79-74, on Tuesday night, they have now won six of their seven games and both in Vegas. It’s a credit to coach Ty Lue, who has done a terrific job getting a dozen guys who just met to play hard and play as a team, while also finding time for a 10-man rotation each night.
“If you’re going to put on a Celtics uniform you’ve got to play hard every night,” Lue said. “KG, Paul [Pierce], [Rajon] Rondo and Doc [Rivers], they’re not going to accept anything less.”
On Tuesday, it was E’Twaun Moore‘s time to shine. The second-year guard has been their most consistent performer throughout summer league and the Bulls’ game was his best to day. Moore hit 10-of-19 shots and scored 25 points including five key points down the stretch when the Bulls cut into a double-digit lead.
The Celtics have until midnight on Sunday to guarantee the second-year of his contract and he’s made strong case for not only sticking with the team, but also getting a chance to earn a rotation spot. While he’s not a natural point guard, Moore has played with his trademark calmness and rarely gets rattled. He’s been solid with the ball outside of a four-turnover effort against the Pistons in Orlando in the C’s only loss.
Tuesday’s game played directly to his strengths as Jared Sullinger battled through a 3-for-15 shooting night and the C’s needed a scorer.
“E’Twaun is trying to be a point guard, but he’s a natural scorer,” Lue said. “It’s a fine line between the two, but we know he can score and attack. With Jared shooting 3-for-15 tonight, he had to step up and score. That’s what point guards do. If guys are rolling you’ve got to give him the ball. If they’re not, then you have to step up and score.”
Despite a tough night offensively, Sullinger drew praise for continuing to attack the glass. He pulled down 14 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Fellow forward JaJuan Johnson also hit the boards, pulling down 12 rebounds in his strongest rebounding effort of the summer session.
JAMAR SMITH MAKES AN IMPRESSION
While Dionte Christmas has been the breakout star of the non-roster players, guard Jamar Smith has also quietly made an impact with one league executive likening him to former Celtic’ Eddie House.
The 6-foot-3 Smith has been on the Celtics’ radar for a while. He was in training camp in 2010 and was a standout performer for their D-League affiliate in Maine last season where he averaged 13.6 points and shot 43 percent from 3-point range. Smith has been lighting it up this summer, as well, making 14 of his 30 3-point attempts.
“He can shoot the ball and I get mad when he turns down shots,” Lue said. “If you turn down another shot, you’re done for the rest of the summer league. Every time he shoots it I think it’s good.”
Considering the Celtics’ lack of depth in the back court, Smith couldn’t have picked a better time to have a strong summer.
Kris Joseph hyper-extended his left knee in the first half and didn’t return for the second half, but Lue said he thinks he’ll be fine … Sullinger’s game has drawn praise from scouts and league executives in attendance. One talent evaluator suggested that Sullinger will be an All-Star and that he’ll continue to develop his range out to the 3-point line … Fab Melo drew another charge and as he explained on Monday, “It’s a Brazilian thing.”
The Celtics are back in action on Thursday when they face the Kings. It should be an interesting matchup as Sullinger will go up against fellow first-rounder Thomas Robinson, whose Kansas team eliminated Ohio State in the Final Four last spring. The Celtics are off on Friday and finish up with the Bucks on Saturday and the Clippers on Sunday.