DENVER — After Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley scoffed at a reporter's suggestion that Marcus Smart brings a similar intensity on the court, Smart fired back Friday while suggesting he’s a more impactful player than Beverley.
After the Celtics-Clippers showdown on Wednesday in Los Angeles, won by L.A. in overtime, Beverley had been asked about going against a player that matches his intensity level. Beverley dismissed the question, saying only, “That’s funny.”
Smart was asked for a response before the Celtics’ shootaround on Friday morning in Denver and upped the ante a bit.
"I’m not surprised at all. I’d have done the same thing,” said Smart. "What I am surprised about is for Pat to think that I’m below him or anything, in that standpoint where you [and] me head up against Pat, I think we know who’d win that battle. I think my play speaks for itself. I’m not saying Pat’s not a good ballplayer, good defender, I’m just on another level right now.”
Pressed on his respect for Beverley, Smart stressed an appreciation for Beverley’s defensive ways. But he doubled down on the notion of who’s the better player overall.
“[The respect is] still there. Nothing’s changed,” said Smart. "He has heart. You gotta respect a guy like that, that goes out there and plays like that every night, fearlessly, and really stands down to nobody.
"The respect factor is there but, at the same time, I’m on another level. When it comes to me, if you had to choose me [or] Pat, I think I’d be getting that nod. So no offense to Pat but step his game up a little bit more and we’ll see.”
Beverley scorched Boston for 14 points and 16 rebounds, highlighted by four 3-pointers, including some clutch shots. Smart had one of his poorer shooting nights, going 7-of-20 overall from the field but finishing with 15 points and 8 assists.
In limited head-to-head matchups Wednesday night, neither player scored against the other, according to the league’s matchup data.
The Celtics and Clippers meet again on Feb. 13 in Boston, the final game before the All-Star break.
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off tonight at 8 ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.