JR Smith Shines As Knicks Snap Their 7-game losing streak
These are the kind of games that show Carmelo Anthony and the Knickerbockers can win games when they have a viable second scoring option. It was finally a happy day at Madison Square Garden for Anthony and the New York Knicks finally ending their long seven game losing streak with a 109-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
JR Smith proved to be that viable second scoring option that the Knicks have lacked this season, scoring a season best 28 points on 10-16 shooting to help his team get a badly needed victory.
“Honestly, when we’re losing seven in a row, I don’t care who it is,” Smith said. “I don’t care if we played the girls’ JV team, we gotta get a W.”
Smith was making his first start of the season for the injured Iman Shumpert, and it certainly will not be his last. Smith would also add four rebounds, four assists, and two steals as the Knicks were finally able to end this four game home stand with a solid win, after suffering consecutive heartbreaking losses to the Magic and Jazz.
“It’s huge, whether it’s by one, by 20, whatever the case may be,” Smith said. “Hopefully it will put a snowball effect on there. Losing seven in a row, not only losing seven in a row but dropping games at home, it’s one of the places we supposed to protect. Just getting one and then trying to go out on the road and keep snowballing down.”
Coach Derek Fisher gave Smith the chance to start after an intense workout session he had on Saturday after the team practice was over. Fisher felt that session is the reason he played as well as he did.
“With J.R., today started yesterday,” said Fisher. ” He had a workout after practice yesterday for maybe 10 minutes. It was as intense and as hard as an individual player can work in the shooting session, and I thought it raised his level of play and intensity for today.”
Despite being impressed with his workout session, Fisher waited close to tip off to inform Smith that would be the starting shooting guard.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know I was going to start until 20 minutes before the game,” Smith said. “At this point in my career, I try to stop focusing on that because when I focus on that it becomes too mental. And for me the key is just going out there and playing. So whether I’m starting or coming off the bench, or whatever they want me to do, I’m going to make sure it doesn’t affect my game.”
Anthony also had a game high of 28 points, and was as happy as anyone that he had another partner scoring the basketball.
“I didn’t have to do it all,” said Anthony.”He (Smith) was there, he was always moving, he was efficient,” Anthony said. “We needed that, he needed that for his confidence. He is a big part of this team.”
Smith is as erratic of a player as your going to have in the NBA, but his work ethic is something that you can’t knock him for. It was shot-making that Smith worked on during his 10-minute workout session following the team practice at Newburgh.
“I was going game speed,” Smith said. “A lot of times, when you get shots up in the practice facility, it is more technique. I did more game speed. I was cutting hard and taking shots I would take in the game, and it transitioned over. “The way I was shooting the ball yesterday and in pre-game today, I had a good feeling for it.”
Smith has become the poster child when it comes to the early season struggles of the Knickerbockers ability to learn the triangle. The shooting guard said in the preseason that it may take him “months” to learn the new system, and that it’s really hard to change his game after all this time. But he has taken the time to dedicate him and work harder to grasp the system.
“It’s been very rewarding,’’ Smith said. “It doesn’t always accumulate in the stat sheet, but it accumulates with my teammates. It’s more of a process of being better for everybody around me. If we’re all on the same page, cutting and back doors, it really makes us more effective.’’
Anthony indicated that he is also still learning the triangle, but knows that he can still take games over along with Smith within the triangle.
“It’s just a matter of just trying to figure it out and trying to get comfortable with the system,” Anthony said. “Everybody has to be comfortable within the triangle, within the system, for anything to work. Even though there’s times where I see I can be effective, or J.R. saw tonight he can be effective, we still need the other three guys out there in order for that to work.”
For the time being, the Knickerbockers were finally able to celebrate a real win instead of a morale one and Anthony was finally able to enjoy a day of work.
“It’s big time. I always say if somebody steps up and I don’t have to do it all I will have a great day at work. Today I had a great day at work.’’