There are few sights more entertaining in professional basketball than J.R. Smith getting hot in a playoff game. That's what happened Monday night, and it was just the spark the Nuggets needed to knock off the Thunder and force a Game 5. Smith dropped 11 of his 15 points after checking into the game late in the third quarter, hitting contested three-pointers that only he is capable of hitting.
To call Smith mercurial is to say the sky is blue. For five years, he has driven coach George Karl insane with his inconsistent play, his shot selection and his off-court antics. Earlier in this series, Smith, a free agent at the end of the year, decided it was the right time to declare that he was probably not coming back. My guess is that the Nuggets don't really want him back either, which means we'll get to see another team take a chance on the package he brings to the table.
Smith is the kind of guy you want to root for, but never want to deal with. If you work for the Denver Nuggets, you're probably a bit appalled by the excessive celebration, given the timing of the shots and the fact that Smith's team is down 3-0. If you're a critic, you probably wonder when Smith is ever going to "get it." But sometimes, it's OK to just be a fan and enjoy the show. Where else can you get this sort of face?