Mike Woodson Needs to Rein in J.R. Smith

By Thomas Duffy
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

J.R. Smith has always been the kind of player that makes you say, “No, no, no!” as he attempts most of his shots, but then say, “Good shot, J.R.” when those shots go in.

Smith is the second best scorer on the New York Knicks, and in the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA season made a strong case for the Sixth Man of the Year award. However, winning that award no longer seems like a possibility due to Smith’s recent shooting struggles.

Smith is either hitting shots while igniting the Knicks offense, or he is putting up ridiculous attempts and making the black hair on Mike Woodson’s goatee turn gray.

Against the Miami Heat yesterday, I’m surprised Smith’s performance didn’t cause Woodson’s hair to turn turn white.

Smith was 5-18 from the field for 13 points, but also went 3-14 on his 3-point attempts in 36 minutes.

“When you’re not making your shots from the 3 you got to get a little bit closer or try and get to the free throw line,” Woodson said. “That’s what good scorers do. [J.R.] is learning how to be a scorer.”

Well, with eight years of NBA experience, I think Smith should understand the concept that if his 3-point attempts aren’t going in, he needs to stop taking them.

Woodson, who has been an ardent supporter of Smith since day-one, has brought life back to New York basketball, preaching defense and accountability for all players. Why is Smith not being held accountable?

Despite going 1-6 in the fourth quarter against Miami, and committing a crucial turnover with 24 seconds left that led to a thunderous dunk by LeBron James, Smith played all 12 minutes of the period. Amar’e Stoudemire, on the other hand, did not see any action for the last seven minutes of the game despite his shooting efficiency: 5-7 from the field for 12 points in 21 minutes.

Woodson said that he and Smith would sit down and talk at some point, but Woodson is the one who needs to be lectured.

You know what you’re going to get with Smith: streaky shooting that can make you love him or hate him. When he’s hot, you ride him; but you can’t play him in for the entire fourth quarter, and for 36 minutes, and then criticize him for clanging 11 3-pointers.

Woodson has preached accountability since day-one. It is time he started practicing it on the player who needs it most.

Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.

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