BOSTON -- Marcus Smart was defending just about every position on the floor. He was grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists.
Heck, he was even doing ball boy duties, like using a broom to pry loose a ball that got stuck behind the backboard in the first half.
And with the game on the line, Smart came up with the two biggest plays offensively and defensively, that helped the Celtics (12-4) hang on for a 103-102 win.
Buddy Hield led all scorers with 41 points that included 11 3-pointers, the most ever made against the Celtics.
But it was Smart’s driving layup with 31 seconds that proved to be the winning basket, a fitting end considering it was Smart’s last-second shot at Sacramento that rimmed out as time expired which snapped Boston’s 10-game winning streak eight days ago.
After the Kings called a timeout, Smart got a steal and went in for a potential layup but had the ball swatted away before it eventually rolled out of bounds with 24.1 seconds to play.
The play was reviewed and the call - Celtics ball - stood firm.
Boston initiated its offense, but there wasn’t anything there right away so coach Brad Stevens called a timeout with 13.6 seconds to play and nine seconds left on the shot clock.
Out of the timeout, the Kings did a good job of denying entry, which forced Boston to call another time-out.
Jayson Tatum’s baseline jumper was off the mark and was eventually rebounded by the Kings. who called a timeout with 5.7 seconds left.
Everyone in the building knew the Kings wanted to get it into the hands of Hield, who was once again having a field day knocking down shot after shot against Boston.
The Celtics’ defense forced a contested shot by Bogdan Bogdanovic whose shot was off the mark with time expiring.
Here are some key takeaways the hard-fought victory over the Kings, who had won seven of their past 10 coming in.
Without Kemba Walker, the Celtics needed someone to step up and be the Alpha offensively and that player for large chunks of Monday’s game was Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics found him up against Bogdanovic, a matchup that they could work and get a bunch of points with Brown scoring seven in a row - all on Bogdanovic. It's yet another example of how Brown’s game continues to expand, regardless of who is available, regardless of the role he’s asked to play. He led the Celtics with 24 points on an efficient 9-for-16 shooting, proving to be too much for the Kings. Defensively, he was among those that got cooked by Hield again, but his scoring punch helped soften the blow. And going forward, with or without Walker, Brown has to continue to assert himself as a scorer because we’re starting to see there are more than a few nights where he is the one player that opponents don’t adequately gameplan for.
Boston was able to get its hands on a ton of balls in the second quarter, which allowed them to get out in transition and swing the game’s momentum in their favor for the first time. Going defense-to-offense was huge for the Celtics as they closed out the half with a 17-5 run and for the first time showed signs of life after having played a ho-hum game up to that point. No one should have expected Boston to roll like that for the rest of the game and they didn’t.
But what made that run so impressive was the energy level that all five players on the floor were playing with on each possession. It's the blueprint for success that they'll need to stick to and one they got away from on too many possessions later in the game, but returned to it just in time to get the victory.
Apparently that strong play we saw from Brad Wanamaker didn’t quite make it back from the West Coast. Wanamaker played 21 largely ineffective minutes before finishing with four points but missing all eight of his field-goal attempts.
And when he wasn’t missing shots, he was among the Celtics defenders getting torched (again) by Hield, who shook off a not-so-great first half to finish with a game-high 41 points.
Players talk all the time about putting games quickly behind them, regardless of how they play. Wanamaker would wise to do just that, especially if Walker misses the next game or two, which will mean more playing time for Wanamaker.
Get ready for Celtics-Nets Wednesday night with Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m., then check in with Halftime Live and wrap it up after the game with Celtics Postgame Live, all on NBC Sports Boston or stream them here through the MyTeams App.