Horry Scale: Tyler Zeller Lifts Celtics

VIDEO: Zeller takes the inbounds pass, pivots underneath and gets the layup to fall

Just try overlooking Jazz at Celtics now. Lottery team vs. lottery team, the season down to the final full month of the regular season, a matchup that easily could have blended into the background, and then this.

Some night for the Boston point guards. Newly acquired Isaiah Thomas, named the Eastern Conference player of the week two days before, had a game-high 21 points, and then Marcus Smart delivered the last of his three assists with a perfect pass in a difficult situation — from out of bounds, finding his man in a seam of the Utah defense — that Tyler Zeller turned into the winning basket at the buzzer.

Not merely the highlight of the night, it will undoubtedly become one of Smart’s best passes of the entire season.


Smart had the hard part. Inbounding the ball at the three-point line extended to the right of the basket, with 1.7 seconds remaining, and taking advantage when 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert gave Smart room, even though the Jazz put Gobert on him to supposedly make life difficult for Smart, the Celtics rookie delivered a two-hand overhead pass almost directly under the basket after Zeller got behind defender Rodney Hood. Zeller had to corkscrew to get free as Gordon Hayward and Gobert converged to help, increasing the degree of difficulty beyond the typical banking lay-in.


Utah led 84-83 after Hayward’s jumper with 1.7 seconds to go. Boston called timeout, needing a response not only to the late Jazz basket but to 31-point loss at Cleveland the night before. The Celtics had already lost an eight-point lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining. They were on the verge of losing the game, too, when coach Brad Stevens drew up the play in the huddle. Smart and Zeller could not have executed it any better.


Pride. That’s it. Otherwise, it was a team winning to improve to 23-35 and a team losing to drop to 24-35. It was a fun moment for the Celtics, not an important one.


It matched the importance. Some of the Celtics charged from the bench, at the same end as the winning basket, to party with Zeller, but there was no mob scene. The best part may have been Stevens embracing Hayward, the former Butler coach with his former Butler star player, at midcourt. The Boston faithful who haven’t had much to cheer this season gave an appreciative loud response.


Points off because of the lack of importance. But the pass was special and Zeller had to work to get the shot off with about two-tenths of a second remaining. Three Horrys.




  1. j says:

    how bout a 0 because jazz are the stupidest team in the world. they love to blow games! hey lets put our shot blocker as far away from the hoop as we can and let them have a layup . theres one second! the last thing you want is to give them a layup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is why i stopped being a jazz fan . i cant take their stupidity!!

    • Kalbo!! says:

      you’ve gotta give the players some credits. They have a lot of young talents. They also play very good defense recently. They just need a far better coach.

      • nate says:

        Are you joking? They need a better coach? Have you watched any of there games this year? Have you seen the player development? Have you seen them lead the lead in defense since the all-star break? If you’ve stopped being a Jazz fan, then why did you bother commenting?

    • david says:

      wow leaving your team when times get hard really im a lakers fan and the last time we won a championship was in 2010 its been 5 years and this year were barley going to get 20 wins but thats what being a fan is all about u stick with a team through good and bad not like these bandwagoning fans like the hawks, cavs, clippers, and golden state and judging your comment u will probably never know what it means to be a real fan

    • Da Truth says:

      a “2-Star”… The only reason Zeller got the shot off in time was because the inbounds clock did not start until well over a half of a second that he was holding the ball. He had the ball in his hands longer than 1.7 seconds, this deserves league review. Not to mention all of the ticky tack fouls that were called in behalf of Isaiah Thomas, really he has God Status already. Not to mention the fact that Thomas turns the ball over in his hands or “carries” as he dribbles and gets away with it. This was an awful game to watch, suffer through. I am sure the Jazz will pull there heads out now and keep Gobert near the rim instead of guarding the inbounder next time, coaching error.

  2. Deandre says:

    Celtics fan checking in; I’ll give it two Horrys, but it’s all been positive lately at the Garden. Good execution and another W closer to that 8th seed.

  3. Confused says:

    How is this game not important?? the celtics are one of the teams scrapping it out for the last playoff spot in the east! every game counts in a race that close.

  4. João says:

    quick note: the play was for Crowder, not Zeller. Utah switched and Zeller was left with the smaller defender (Favors switched onto Crowder). So while it was a great read from Smart on the inbounds, it wasn’t exactly what “Stevens drew in the huddle”.
    Source: Marcus Smart post-game interview.

    • Da Truth says:

      You can actually see coach Snyder say “Just stay between your man and the hoop” at the last timeout. Rodney Hood fails to stay between his man, the whole lineup get jumbled and the next thing you know Zeller’s shooting layups. This has to go down as one of Utah’s hardest losses this year. Next time Gobert stays at the rim, no need to guard the inbounder with 1.7 seconds left.

    • Will says:

      Not true, João. The first time they ran the play, it was designed for Crowder – that’s when Brad Stevens saw that Utah was switching. Marcus Smart couldn’t get the ball in, so he called a timeout and THAT’S when Stevens drew up the play for Zeller, anticipating the switch again. They ran the play, Utah switched, and Smart found Zeller for the game winner. That’s a hell of a play call by Stevens.

  5. RJ says:

    The Celtics are actually well in the hunt for a playoff spot still, so it is more important than you’re making it out to be.