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Celtics’ Marcus Smart motivated by courtside heckler in big performance in win over Grizzlies

Marcus Smart had his best game of the season for the Celtics in Monday night’s win over the Grizzlies. It turns out he had a little help from a courtside heckler.

The Celtics point guard had 15 points and a season-high 12 assists in the 109-106 victory, in part, because of the chirping he was receiving from a fan sitting courtside in Memphis. Smart and the fan were going back and forth throughout the game – and much like Reggie Miller used Spike Lee’s heckling to his advantage decades ago – it helped inspire the C’s guard’s performance.

“I had a heckler on their sideline kind of going crazy,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston after the win. “It kind of gave me a little bit more motivation to come out here and just play the best basketball I can.”

Smart was locked in from the opening tip as he scored or assisted on the Celtics’ first 16 points of the game. He was making the right plays all game as he continued to shake off a less-than-ideal start to the season. Coupled with 11 assists in Saturday’s win over the Knicks, Smart has 23 assists to just three turnovers over his last games.

His performance also included a highlight-reel three-point play as the Celtics pulled away in the fourth quarter. The C’s led by five midway through the period when Smart drove to the lane, took contact from Santi Aldama and acrobatically floated the ball in with his left hand as he crashed to the floor. Smart looked at his hand in awe and pointed at it while appearing to say, ‘You’re a bad (expletive),” to celebrate the play.

“Practice,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston when asked how he did it. “Everybody on the team will tell you, they’d rather me go right than go left because my left hand for some reason is just as better as my right, so just constantly working on it and putting it to the test.”

Smart was also integral as the Celtics locked in defensively in the fourth to hold off Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. The point guard took a charge on the lightning-quick guard with 2:05 to go as they silenced the Grizzlies star in the final period, a big reason they were able to close out the victory.

“Anticipating,” Smart said of taking the charge. “Ja was going left all night, killing us. Getting to his spot. He kind of took a hesitation dribble which gave me enough time to react and try to swoop over, and I just read it right and was able to be in the right position at the right time.”

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