Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. entered Sunday’s (December 2) contest against the Los Angeles Clippers all smiles over the prospects of rebounding from a loss to the Lakers that halted a three-game win streak – along a run that saw his team win eight of their previous 10 match-ups. And after sealing the 114-110 victory he was looking to give Dallas, Smith was smiling just as brightly – even in knowing that he wouldn’t be heading back home with a full set of chompers.
USA Today reports that Smith lost one of his front teeth while hustling to prevent a turnover with 3:11 on the clock in the third quarter. As he dove for the ground to regain possession of a ball that Danilo Gallinari had knocked loose from his hands, Patrick Beverley came crashing down on top of him. A slow-motion replay of the action shows Smith’s tooth fall to the floor as a result of Beverley’s elbow jolting into his jaw.
Admirably, Smith was able to keep his composure amidst the controversy. He’d simply pick the incisor up and walk it over to the bench before returning to compete for the jump-ball that officials had signaled for. Dallas was on top 79-73 when he tipped possession back to them.
The Mavs’ second-year man would then exit the game, but as ESPN notes in its coverage of the Western Conference showdown, he’d come back out to complete what he helped start with 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter. Thanks to super-Mavericks fan Don Knobler, Smith wouldn’t have to deal with Beverley for that much longer. Knobler’s heckling would so unnerve Beverley that at the 9:10 mark he walked over and bounced the ball toward his crotch – thereby earning an ejection. He’d later claim that his reaction was prompted by Knobler insulting his mother, according to Bleacher Report.
In spite of what friction may have been brewing throughout the intense competition, Smith wouldn’t hold the injury against Beverley.
“It’s just a freak accident. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose. I’m sure that wasn’t his intentions, but it happens,” he’d later say of the incident.
Smith eventually entered the locker room to the nicknames “Ruthless Toothless” and “Hockey Guy” being pitched his way, albeit for the time being one of Dallas’ physicians had been able to implant a temporary ahead of his appointment with the team dentist on Monday. When asked why he wouldn’t simply opt to move forward with the more intimidating game face that a missing tooth would give him, Smith found himself pondering about all of the women he’d be turning off, saying, “nah, I’m good on that.”