Celtics rookie point guard Marcus Smart has been suspended for one game by the NBA, after delivering an apparent low blow to Spurs forward Matt Bonner during Friday’s game.
He will miss Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden.
Smart called his flagrant 2 foul on Bonner ”a freak accident” following his ejection from Friday night’s matchup. The incident occurred while Smart was fighting through a screen on the perimeter in the fourth quarter of Boston’s loss to San Antonio.
As he chased Spurs guard Patty Mills, Smart made contact with Bonner below the belt with his right hand. After a official video review, Smart was accessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the contest, but the 21-year-old denied any intentional wrongdoing after the game.
“Like every other play, I was trying to get through a screen. [Aron Barnes] screened me, [Bonner] tried to clean up the screen and I tried to fight through,” Smart said of the sequence. “He had his arms up high [we] locked arms, and my body, the way [Baynes] hit me threw my body back, so it forced all my momentum to come forward, and [Bonner] just happened to jump in the way as I was trying to rip through and rip up, and he got caught.
“Like I told him, I wasn’t trying to intentionally do it, because if I was, obviously he wouldn’t have come at me the way he did. It was just something that was just a freak accident — inadvertent arm that happened to connect.”
Smart exchanged words with Bonner after the play, as he tried to explain the contact was not intentional.
“[Bonner] approached me,” Smart told reporters in San Antonio. “Like I told him, I was like, if I hit you in your privates, you wouldn’t be in my face. I was like, ‘it wasn’t intentional.’ And that’s what I told him. I wasn’t trying to. I didn’t even know I did. He just kept coming to my face. And as a player, and as a man, at that point you know you’re going to have to stand up for yourself. So as he got close to my face, I stayed in. I had to stand up for myself.”
Smart’s head coach Brad Stevens did not exactly come to his point guard’s defense when asked about the play after the game.
“I saw the play and spoke to Marcus. For me, from my standpoint, it looks like an unacceptable play. You can’t do that. It’s as simple as that,” Stevens said.
When Stevens was asked about Smart’s apparent on-court frustration prior to the play, the head coach was not ready to make excuses for the youngster.
“You got to be able to handle it,” Stevens stated. “That’s something that hopefully he’ll mature from and grow from, but that’s something that no matter how the game is going, no matter how frustrated you are, no matter how many times something hasn’t gone your way, you have to do the right thing and make the appropriate play…and it wasn’t.”