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11.28.2008

Michael Smith is Underwhelming


Remembering the 29-5 Start
1990-91 Boston Celtics

He started the second game of the season. In the first three sequences, he allowed his man to blow by him for a layup, threw away the ball and then committed a foul.

And it's been downhill for Michael Smith since then.

Last year's No. 1 draft pick was pulled 4 minutes into the Knicks game and didn't play at all against the Bulls. Chicago is on the docket tonight (7:30, SportsChannel) at the Garden, and coach Chris Ford still is looking for Smith to be his elusive small forward.

Smith and Ed Pinckney have been staging a "you can have it" campaign. Pinckney is the latest to take the spot, going 12 minutes against the Bulls.

Smith has played 6 minutes in three games. Pinckney has played 24. Each has a DNP.

As for Smith, Ford said, "He hasn't had a whole lot of opportunities in game situations. He had his shot against the Knicks.

It's still early and I don't want him to get down on himself. I hope he continues to work hard and develop and prove to me he deserves playing time. The same thing with Eddie."

Smith is getting used to rough starts. Last season, a series of injuries kept him sidelined for the first five games. This year, he has not found a spot in the rotation. The result has been a grand total of 8 minutes played in the first four games. Last night, he played 2 minutes of garbage time.

"Last year, I was sitting there wondering if I could play, wondering if things would ever get resolved," said Smith. "This year I'm just sitting and waiting for my chance.

"Sure, the lineup will be small and quick sometimes, but I think we need outside shooting, too. And that's not all I can do. I feel like I run an offense intelligently. When the ball is moving, good things happen, and I can be part of that."

And what of his rough go in New York last weekend, when he lasted just 3:20 before coach Chris Ford went to Kevin McHale?

"It was bad luck for me that everything went wrong while I was out there," he said. "I thought I played well. Kiki Vandeweghe hits two shots without even looking, and there's not much I can do. I made three good passes out there, but the shots didn't fall.

"It would be easy for someone in my position to get really discouraged. I'm not going to."

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