SALT LAKE CITY – As Terry Rozier suited up for his third summer league game in four days on a shorthanded Celtics squad missing Jaylen Brown, Jordan Mickey and R.J. Hunter, he was understandably a little tired.
The second-year guard had been captaining Boston’s offense all week in Utah summer league, but team president Danny Ainge was not going to let him take a night off on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Today, I was kind of gassed, not going to lie,” Rozier admitted Thursday night. “DA came and whispered in my ear, he’s like ‘I don’t care how tired you are, you have to shoot the ball.’”
The 6-foot-1 guard did just that in the closing seconds of a two-point game against San Antonio, drilling the game-winning 3-point shot (while getting fouled) to give the Celtics a dramatic 87-86 win.
“Coach Shrewsberry drew up a good play for JY to hammer on not the backside, but kind of the ballside,” Rozier said of the call after the game. “I was setting the hammer for him to knock down the game-winning shot, and they did a good job of switching, but they kind of both went with JY. I was kind of open for a split second so I called G’s name, he got me the ball and threw up a prayer. Got the win.”
The sequence capped a stellar summer league week for Rozier, who finished with 23 points in the win. On the week, he averaged 18.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists over three games, earning him plenty of praise from his coach.
“He’s really had to take on a leadership role even more, but also a bigger scoring role, too,” assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “Trying to manage both and figure out, as the same time, when to be aggressive and looking for his shot, and when to get into the paint and find other guys. He’s developing. These games are good for him.”
After a disappointing rookie year in which he saw just limited playing time until late in the season, Rozier is determined to prove he belongs in his second summer league.
“It’s definitely a big deal. It’s a lot of bragging rights,” Rozier said of summer league. “Guys want to be in the league so you still have to prove yourself. Whether I’ve played in the playoffs, played a year, I can’t just come out here and just think I’m better than everyone else. I still got to prove what I can do, so it’s big. You can see that in the emotions from me and my teammates.”
The Celtics will have a day off Friday before attempting to continue their undefeated summer league season on Saturday when they head to Las Vegas.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.