If I told you that Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Amar'e Stoudemire were all injured, who on the Knicks would you assume takes the bulk of the team's shots? It's got to be j.R. Smith, right? Of course.
He's already knocked in a game winner in Charlotte earlier this month. With the Knicks trailing by two, Smith dribbled around and produced a scant sliver of space from D.J. Tucker of the Phoenix Suns. It was enough to fade away while twisting to squared up to the rim. The ball glided off the finger tips of his right hand and swished through the basket. The shot barely beat the shot clock. The game was tied with 10.6 second left.
The Suns turned the ball over with a second remaining. Smith cut towards to near corner and stumbled. The ball was passed anyway and Smith managed to regain his composure, catch the ball, turn, and fire all in one motion. There was no doubt the ball wouldn't even graze the rim on its way to the bottom of the net. The Knicks pulled off an improbable win in Phoenix, 99-97.
Smith's overall game was rockier than the final 11 seconds suggest. He scored 27 points, but it took 27 shots. He had five steals, but four turnovers. He added 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but had three of his shots blocked.
Tyson Chandler (14 points, 12 rebounds), Jason Kidd (23 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and Chris Copeland (14 points) all helped out. James White got the start over Copeland and it was a rare miss by Mike Woodson, who deserves a lot of credit for this short-handed road win.
Jared Dudley poured in a career high 36 points for the Suns. After a close first quarter, the Knicks scortched the Suns int he second and took a comfortable ten point lead into halftime. Phoenix's starting point guard, Goran Dragic, was injured on a dubious flagrant foul call against J.R. Smith. Dragic skied in order to score as Smith ran past him, attempting to avoid contact.
But the Suns roared back in the third without Dragic to tie the game. The contest swayed back and forth int he fourth. The Suns had retaken the lead late before Smith's heroics saved the day.
The Knicks are now 21-8 and 9-6 or the road.