Harris DeckerJ.R. Smith was the lone bright spot for the Knicks during their Sunday afternoon loss to the Heat yesterday. In fact, Smith has been electric for a few weeks now and that culminated with his Knicks record 10 3’s made on an NBA record 22 attempts.
Finishing with 32 points, Smith was absolutely brilliant from outside. He has the unique ability to hit really good shots and really bad shots. While many think of him as a bad shot taker, he has been really good about shot selection as of late.
Over the past nine game, Smith is averaging 21.8 points, a big increase over his season average of 14.2. During that run, Smith has shot an incredible 49% from the field and 44% from behind the arc. His 3-point shooting percentage this season has been 39%.
What’s amazing about this run is how it contrasts from the early season struggles for Smith. In fact, 12 of his top 18 scoring games this season have come in 2014. He started the season with questions about the health of his knee and now those concerns seem to have been cast aside and he’s shooting freely and hitting big shots.
There were a few instances during this stretch when Smith was the only guy who could answer the call. Even during yesterdays game against the Heat, there was a stretch when Smith continuously responded to Lebron James shots with big 3’s of his own. He was a one man run stopper while Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily.
Smith’s season has been a microcosm of the Knicks as a whole. He’s been red hot at times and lost at times. We’re lucky enough to be witnessing him through a hot stretch right now and while it might not push the Knicks into the playoffs, he’s certainly making the case to Phil Jackson that he can fit into the triangle offense which will need some guys who can breakdown defenses and hit shots from outside.