By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If things get chippy during a Celtics game, chances are Marcus Morris has something to do with it.
That was the case again on Wednesday night, when Morris and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. got into a bit of a dust-up early in the second quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. Morris broke up an alley-oop bid by Nance, sending him to the floor out of bounds. Morris stood over Nance and had a few choice words for him, which sent Nance into a tizzy. He shoved Morris after getting up, causing a brief on-court scuffle.
Morris looked ready to rip Nance’s head off, but Al Horford, Aron Baynes and, of all people, Marcus Smart raced in to break up the kerfuffle. Smart, who gave Cavs “bully” J.R. Smith a shove in Game 2 while sticking up for Horford, joked after Wednesday night’s win that he didn’t want to get fined — again.
While those three played the role of peacemakers, Celtics guard Terry Rozier ran over and gave Nance another shove during the ordeal, one of his few hustle plays on the night. It prompted Brad Stevens to rush over to get Rozier out of the mix, questioning the young guard what he was thinking for getting involved.
In the end, following a signature lengthy review by NBA officials, Morris and Nance were given offsetting technical fouls. Rozier was also hit with a T for his shove, meaning Cleveland walked away the benefactor from it all.
At least we have another Morris highlight though, as he nonchalantly gave teammate Jaylen Brown a little wink as the refs sorted out the mess:
Asked what he said to Nance to spark the fracas, Morris wasn’t about to divulge.
“I definitely can’t say that on the camera,” Morris smirked. “But it must have got to him, because he got up and he did his little whatever you want to call it.”
Rozier was also all smiles when asked about his role in the fray after the game.
“I didn’t push nobody,” said Rozier. “Did you see me push somebody? I don’t think I pushed nobody. Larry’s my guy. We’re both from Ohio.”
While it was nice to see the entire Celtics bench rush to Morris’ aid, with Nance’s teammates opting to stay out of it, the hubbub did spark a 12-3 run by the Cavaliers that cut Boston’s 17-point lead to just eight. It really didn’t matter in the end, with the Celtics walking off the floor victorious and owners of a 3-2 series lead.
Morris, who had another under-the-basket moment in Game 2 when he screamed in Tristan Thompson’s face after an and-one, said this is just part of his competitive fire.
“I’m just competing at a high level, man,” he said. “I’m blessed to be able to come out here and play in a game of such high magnitude, and hey, it’s getting chippy. It’s the conference finals and I’m all in.”