WASHINGTON — Nick Young was rather agitated during the Celtics’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night, and the cause of his anger was more than just withstanding another drubbing.
He was angry about a trash-talking session with the Celtics’ Jared Sullinger, telling ESPN on Sunday, “I don’t like when people talk trash and then they get the ‘W’ after and they feel like they did something. I don’t like that feeling.”
Young said his disdain was directed toward Sullinger, who scored 17 points in 30 minutes and yelled at the Lakers bench after draining a couple of 3-pointers. Sullinger was asked about his exchange with Young.
“It’s part of basketball, I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “He got a little upset and words kind of went to going.”
In one sequence, Young was screaming at Sullinger following a foul near the free throw line. Young apparently pushed Sullinger in the back as he retrieved a rebound. When asked about that contact, Sullinger said, “I didn’t know who pushed me. I thought it was my nephew.”
Despite being considered a mild-mannered, workmanlike player, Sullinger said trash talk is part of his arsenal.
“That’s what y’all think [that he’s quiet],” Sullinger said. “You can call my brothers James and Julian and they’ll tell you it’s totally different. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings, so I apologize.”
Remember, Sullinger did play a full season with Kevin Garnett, perhaps the league’s most notorious trash talker. He said there are limits to his banter.
“There’s a line you don’t cross,” he said. “I will never say anything really, really hurtful to somebody. I might attack an individual words-wise but I would never say anything that I would later regret. I would never take it personal. He’s a competitor. I’m a competitor and we both did a little trash talking but because we won, I guess it’s a little different.”
Patience on Smart
Marcus Smart had played 13 minutes since his return from a badly sprained left ankle. In Monday night’s 133-132 double-overtime loss to the Wizards, Celtics coach Brad Stevens threw the rookie guard into a pressure situation, with the Celtics trailing big in the second half.
Smart turned in his best performance of the season with a career-high 23 points in 35 minutes and stellar defense on John Wall before Wall broke free in the second overtime.
“I thought he played well,” Stevens said of Smart. “He played well on both ends of the floor. He was active, set a tone for us on that end of the floor, on the defensive end, which is really good. I’m not going to overevaluate one game. I think that’s the most fair way to look at it. I’m not going to go off the handle if he didn’t play well the other day.”
Smart was 1 for 12 in his stint Thursday with NBADL Maine, missing his first 11 shots and all eight 3-point attempts. In Sunday’s win over the Wizards at TD Garden, he converted his first shot attempt, a 15-footer, but missed a pull-up 3-pointer off the fast break. Monday night he was 7 for 14 shooting with 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.
“It was crazy, I wasn’t really expecting to play much coming off the injury,” he said. “But coach Stevens and this team, we’re all in it together, so he made the call to keep me in there and I’ve played very well.”
While Smart said he is still experiencing some discomfort, Stevens considers him healthy.
“I don’t know if he is or isn’t,” Stevens said. “I’m under the assumption he is, it’s just a matter to getting back to where he was before based on everything I’ve been told. It’s not like we’re [always] going to force him into playing 35 minutes a night. Other guys will step up until he’s ready to play the way he can best help us.”
Smart said he did not return too early.
“I talked to the trainers and they didn’t see no reason for me not to [come back],” he said. “I didn’t see no reason for me not to come back and give it a shot. I was walking fine, jogging fine. It’s still going to be painful with a bone bruise. That’s expected. It’s going to take some time.”
“I thought he was solid in his first stint [after the injury],” Stevens said. “He was pretty good in his second, but I didn’t think he was the same as the first 3½ games of the season [before the injury]. I think it continues to be a re-establishing process for him and getting back into the flow of things. As I told him, his emphasis has to be more on everybody else and how he can just be a helper until he gets back to feeling like he was before he hurt the ankle.”
Raves for Zeller
Stevens said he is pleased with the play of center Tyler Zeller since he entered the starting lineup. Zeller had 10 points and five rebounds Monday and in six starts is averaging 10.8 points and 8.3 boards while shooting 61.5 percent (24 of 39). Stevens said he will keep Zeller in the starting lineup indefinitely . . . Former Celtic Paul Pierce scored 28 points to give him 25,300 for his career. That pushed him past Reggie Miller (25,279) for 16th on the all-time NBA list. Garnett is 14th . . . The Wizards were without Nene, who missed the game with a sore right knee. The center missed five games earlier this season with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Washington coach Randy Wittman said Nene still needs to get into playing shape.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.