The Knicks five game winning streak ended in part to the benching of J.R. Smith on Tuesday night. However, during a Wednesday interview, Mike Woodson stated that J.R. Smith will be a major factor for the team going forward. Still, Smith must become more professional on and off the court.
Woodson and the Knicks are using tough love to get through to J.R. Smith, but the action of benching the reigning Sixth Man of the Year has been met with mixed results. The first time Smith sat a full 48 minutes, New York ousted the Miami Heat. The Knicks played exquisitely through most of that game. However, it was apparent that the Knicks were lethargic after coming away with an overtime win over Phoenix.
Still, J.R. was nowhere to be found by the second quarter of the loss to Charlotte. It was especially disturbing since Charlotte and New York could be battling for playoff position all season. The Knicks need J.R. Smith to be at his best, and they definitely need him to be on the court.
Here’s an excerpt according to Newsday.com via ESPN New York.-"I'm not kicking J.R. to the curb," Woodson said on ESPN New York radio Wednesday. "J.R.'s a big part of what we've done here and he will remain a big part. But he's got to make sure he's on the same page with the head coach in terms of what I'm expecting from him and what I want him to do in terms of his play and what he's doing on and off the court to help us win basketball games.
ESPN New York reported that J.R. Smith was late to a team meeting on Tuesday. Smith also had some postgame comments about his playing time during the overtime session against Phoenix. While, some may consider the negative comments bad, it’s much better to have players that want to be out there.
J.R. Smith will be available to play on Thursday night when the Knicks visit the Indiana Pacers. It will be interesting to see how New York plays against the Eastern Conference leaders.
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