It's no longer just the best start to a season JR Smith has ever had. It's starting to turn into a special one for the current sixth man of the New York Knicks and it's a big reason why they are in first place in the Atlantic Division.
Smith was outstanding again tonight as he scored 20 points, his fifth consecutive game with 20+ points, to help the Knicks end the San Antonio Spurs seven game winning streak with a 100-83 victory on Thursday night.
It is the first time in ten years since New York has swept a season series from the Spurs. San Antonio, which averaged 111.7 points on 53.4 percent shooting during its winning streak and rang up 117 points on Wednesday night against the Bucks, shot just 36 percent in its lowest-scoring game this season
"We are in a good place," said Smith. "We need to make sure we bring this kind of defensive intensity every night."
Smith added five rebounds, three assists and added a memorable slam dunk off a alley-oop pass from Pablo Prigioni that will certainly be talked about as one of the top plays in the NBA this season.
"I like him a lot," said Prigioni. "It doesn't matter how you pass the ball, he will catch and I don't know he will bang the ball because the pass was too low and he went up to catch it. He's amazing."
Before the season, Smith was not very keen on the idea of coming off the bench for the team. Woodson didn't care about Smith's feelings as he felt like the Knicks are a much better team when Smith is coming off the bench. It is hard to argue with Woodson as Smith as shined in that role and is the early leading candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
"That was the whole idea coming into this season/" said Woodson. "Putting him in a position as a guy coming off the bench, as a guy that can lead the league or score a lot points off the bench. We're putting him in the position to do that. I think he's starting to step up and be more patient about his play."
Carmelo Anthony scored half the points tonight than he did the other night leading the team with 23 points. In their loss to the Blazers, Anthony scored 45 of New York's 100 points for the game. It was different story tonight as it was a total team effort which meant that Anthony did not have to play an "MVP" like game.
"That's their scheme, to try to take me out of the game," Anthony said. "Just a matter of us making shots when we swing the ball, and Novak made shots, J.R. kept his streak alive of playing good basketball, Pablo came in and led our team from the point guard position. Everybody contributed in their own way."
Prigioni played well in 28 minutes of action as he had six points, three steals and a game high nine assists. After having committing nine turnovers in the first half, the Knicks turned the ball over three times in the second as Prigioni played the majority at the point guard spot over Jason Kidd. With Raymond Felton out of action for the next of month, Prigioni's minutes at the point will surely increase as New York hopes to keep Kidd's minutes down as the season goes on.
"With Raymond out, everybody needs to do something extra," said Prigioni. " Me and Jason are the two point guards. I will try to give it my best till Ray comes back."
In addition to his amazing dunk, Smith also added a great block shot off a Gary Neal in the first quarter that seemed forgotten when the game was over. Despite having a wacky style of offense, Smith is certainly one of the most underrated defenders in the league.
"He's not just committing to the offensive end," said Woodson. "He's trying to defend and he's rebounding, he's sacrificing the ball when he has to. He's playing an all around good game
Amar'e Stoudemire had 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting in his second game of the season after knee surgery. He was better than his debut game and seemed to slowly get his offensive game back by the minute. However, he clearly is still a ways to go as he still lacks the explosiveness in his offense as he had many of his shots blocked.
New York will now travel south to Orlando for a Saturday night game against the Magic.