New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has his own way of donig things. On Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder his way worked. He exploded for a season-high 36 points and dazzled the Madison Square Garden crowd as he turned step-back jumpers and long threes into beautiful buckets that kept New York in the game. He earned his opportunity to take the final shot that would have propelled the Knicks to victory, but apparently he ignored a set play called by Mike Woodson to make that opportunity happen. Welcome to the wacky world of J.R. Smith.
The 27-year-old combo guard posted 31 of his 36 points during the second and third periods to help the Knicks build a modest lead, but Kevin Durant and the Thunder stormed back to put the Knicks down 95-94 in the waning seconds of the game.
Head coach Mike Woodson called a 20-second timeout with seven seconds remaining in the game, and he designed a set play for the Knicks to run on their final possession that involved off-ball action to shift the defense away from the paint for Smith to drive to the rim. What actually happened was that J.R. took the inbounds pass, jab-stepped a few times, faked a spin in one direction and then used a spin in the other direction to get off a 20-foot fade away attempt that came up empty.
Woodson did not sound pleased with Smith's execution after the game (via Alan Hahn):
"We didn't get guys to fire off like they should have," Woodson said of the final play. "Once he actually caught it, he looked up at the clock when he caught it and faced. He could have just gone [to the basket] because [the Thunder defense] was plugged into their guys."
Woodson said Smith "could have ripped-through and went to the rim."
Woodson's play had worked well enough to leave the paint unoccupied by a Thunder defender, and some Knicks fans took notice:
To his credit, Smith seemed contrite after the game, saying: "I really should have gone to the basket." Here's a look at the final play:
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