Knicks Beat Heat, J.R. Smith Benched by Woodson

Published on: 10th January, 2014


Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, J.R, Smith, Tyson Chandler
Anthony scored 29 along with 16 rebounds and four assists

From left, New York Knicks' Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Tyson Chandler sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Knicks won 121-83. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)  | read this item

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New York — The Knicks may not be ready to pronounce themselves fully healed from the painful first 33 games of this season which took them to an 11-22 record but they sure as hell seem on the road to recovery. Tonight, they outplayed a rested and confident defending NBA championship team and turned Madison Square Garden into the kind of homecourt advantage they used to enjoy back in the days when winning was their modus operandi.

In defeating the Miami Heat, 102-92, they dominated LeBron James and company when it counted, in the second half when they outscored the Heat, 59-44 and, in so doing, raised their collective confidence to another level not yet visited this season.

Carmelo Anthony, matched up with his old pal, James, shined tonight. Melo scored 29 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists practically mirroring James’ output of 32-6-5. No edge there for the Heat and there was no edge anywhere for Miami tonight.

The 11-22 start seems to have left the psyche of this team, with a renewed optimism.

“You can tell it’s different than one month ago,” Andrea Bargnani, who scored 19, said. “Our faces are different, our body language is different.”

Raymond Felton had 13 points and 14 assists for the Knicks, who seized control with a 16-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters and beat the Heat for the fourth time in five meetings over the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t going to last all season like that,” Felton said. “We were just going through a slump, now I feel like we’re out of it.”

As the Knicks begin their apparent rise from the abyss of what had formerly been a miserable basketball season for the team, the misery for their sixth-man, resident joker, and second scoring option after Carmelo Anthony continues, unabated.

J.R. Smith didn’t play after the reigning Sixth Man of the Year’s latest trouble, a $50,000 fine when he attempted to untie an opponent’s sneaker for the second straight game, after he’d been warned by the NBA not to do it again. Knicks coach Mike Woodson criticized Smith’s behavior during a radio interview Wednesday but said before the game he wouldn’t discuss Smith any longer.

But the benching did the speaking for him. Smith often stood far away from the huddle during timeouts, but his teammates sure didn’t miss him on the court.

Woodson again wouldn’t comment after the game, but no Knicks player, not even Smith, seemed to know he wouldn’t play.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” Smith said. “I expected to do the same thing I always do. I did my same routine and it didn’t happen.”

The Knicks surged into the lead late in the third. Bargnani answered back quickly after James blew by him for a dunk, converting a three-point play to tie it and ignite a 9-0 spurt that helped New York lead 75-71 entering the final 12 minutes.

New York ran off seven in a row to open the fourth, making it 82-71 on Stoudemire’s basket, and there was never really a run for the Heat, who couldn’t get closer than five from there.

“They played a great game,” James said. “They made some timely shots.”

Now, the Knicks will see if this is just a temporary burst of success or whether they can sustain their solid play, of late. That’s life in the NBA, the epitome of a league and 82-game season that asks the question, “what have you done for me lately?” The Knicks will find out more about themselves in Philadelphia tomorrow night.

JR Smith didn't get off the bench last night

JR Smith didn’t get off the bench last night


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