Knicks Get the Full J.R.

Brian DiMenna

My favorite part of that highlight is the flummoxed Charlotte broadcaster’s resigned, “Man, that’s a tough shot” that punctuates the moment.

Because, man, that was a tough shot.

The Knicks received last night pretty much the total of the J.R. Smith experience. The highs, the lows, the laughs, the tears and a general sense of nuttiness that come with having a player like Smith on your team. And I’m in.

After J.R.’s hot start to the season, there was a lot of ink spilled about the changes he’s made, both on and off the court (The off the court part is almost sort of disappointing. Sure, it’s nice to get the advantage of his improved focus, but even my imagined idea of Smith’s NYC nightlife gave me considerable joy). Mike Woodson was given a lot of credit for his mentoring of Smith, for finding a way to corral his enigmatic talents. And, yeah, there’s probably some truth to that, but I don’t really think Smith’s changed all that much. This is who he is. An extremely talented, if inconsistent player, who in the right role is a great weapon to have.

Within the span of a few seconds, Smith’s night went from 1-of-9 from three, an almost bizarrely mishandled fast break in the closing seconds that nearly caused Jason Kidd’s head to explode and the looming “What’s wrong with J.R. Smith?” headlines cued up, to being transformed instantly by a gorgeous, fadeaway, game-winning buzzer-beater that left everyone marveling at what fun it is to have a guy like Smith on their team.

Which is as it should be.

You don’t hand a guy like Smith the keys to your offense and say, “Hey, why don’t you drive?” but if you have him in the right role and the proper context, he can make for one pretty entertaining ride.

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