At long last, J.R. Smith makes news with spectacular play, not boneheaded antics (videos)
Given the run J.R. Smith has been on this season — attracting headlines for knuckleheaded on-court shenanigans, among other things, it must be refreshing for New York Knicks fans to have reason to cheer on the team’s guard, not jeer him for his antics.
The Knicks obliterated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, running away with a 117-86 blowout victory.
Smith played an integral role in the convincing win, scoring 19 points on a respectable 8-16 shooting night, his tenth-straight game scoring in double figures.
More than that, Smith appeared energized, exuded enthusiasm, and on two plays in particular, dazzled the fans with his dynamic athleticism.
First up was the jaw-dropping, reverse windmill dunk he threw down after shaking Anthony Bennett on the baseline during the first quarter.
It was clear Smith was enjoying himself. When asked after the game whether he was having fun during the game, Smith responded in the affirmative.
“Without a doubt,” said Smith, as quoted by the New York Post. “The stuff we went through this season, losing guys. These are the bright spots you want to have, especially playing at home. You’ve got teammates on the bench going crazy, guys on the court excited. … There’s nothing better.”
But Smith’s on-court fun didn’t end with the sick throwdown. Later, in the third quarter, Smith schooled Tristan Thompson with a slick crossover. Thompson ended up on the floor and Smith sunk the jumper from the top of the key.
Smith had something to say about the play afterward.
“I saw him fall, I was trying to focus on making the shot. I wanted to laugh. I knew my teammates were going crazy behind me,” Smith said. “I had to make the shot to make sure everything fell into place.”
Ultimately, what the Knicks need most is the play and demeanor Smith demonstrated on Thursday to be a trend, not an aberration. It is even possible that Smith recognizes this — finally — as well.
“Just being professional on and off the court as much as I can,” Smith said. “This is my 10th year, of course it sounds like that old broken record but you can never be too cautious about your job. Anybody’s job is replaceable.”
Ain’t that the truth. Better for his to realize this later than never at all. Go on, Smith. How about a little air guitar celebration? He’s earned it.