J.R. Smith is a polarizing basketball player, for fans and coaches alike. On the one hand, his supreme athleticism and skill are mesmerizing – on the other, he takes really, really, really dumb shots and generally has the basketball IQ of a chair. Knicks coach Mike Woodson, however, has been a staunch supporter of Smith because of the good, which apparently outweighs the bad.
Thus far this season, Woodson has managed to temper much of Smith’s sometimes ill-advised play and turn him into a dangerously effective sixth man. Last night against the Charlotte Bobcats, this was not the case. Smith continued to launch three-pointer after three-pointer, despite going 1-9 from distance and 5-7 from inside the arc. And in the game’s final moments, with Carmelo Anthony out with stitches on a cut finger, Smith was his usual self: mesmerizing, terrifying, and mesmerizing.
With the game tied at 98 and the Bobcats holding for a final shot, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist threw an errant pass to the top of the key from the right baseline. Good J.R. Smith stepped in the passing lane and deflected the ball to Raymond Felton, who turned up court with Smith for a 2-on-1. Except bad J.R. Smith, for some reason, leaked out to the three-point line to pull the ball out instead of getting the quick two right then and there.
You’ll also notice on the right side of the screen a frantic Jason Kidd, sensing Smith might do something stupid, waving his arms like a crazy person to call timeout (which was granted). Then immediately turn your back to Felton, who throws his arms up in the air while looking at bad J.R. Smith to say something along the lines of “What the fuck?”
But then, good J.R. Smith. As in, the J.R. Smith, who, for whatever reason, is not so terrible at hitting terrible shots. After catching the ball at the top of the key with three seconds to go, he drives left and steps back, only to fire a fadeaway with MKG all over him. But this is good J.R. Smith, so he nailed the 20-foot buzzer beater for the win, 100-98.