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NBA New York Knicks

New York Knicks Hoping J.R. Smith Ends Shooting Slump in Game 5

Danny Wild – USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are desperately hoping for J.R. Smith to break out of shooting a slump that has plagued him during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.

In the first four games of the series, which the Knicks trail 3-1, Smith is averaging 13.3 points per game on just 28 percent shooting. He has failed to score at least 20 points or shoot 40 percent since his suspension for elbowing Boston’s Jason Terry in Game 4 of their first round series.

During the regular season, Smith averaged a career-high 18.1 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting to take home the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award.

The Knicks could be headed for an early offseason if Smith fails to bust out in tonight’s Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony is averaging 26 points per game in the series, but New York is in need of a second scoring option, a role Smith played throughout the regular season.

Smith, who is likely to opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer, could be playing his last game in a Knicks’ uniform tonight. Smith’s prolonged shooting slump could cost the shooting guard millions as potential suitors are forced to question the validity of the personal and professional strides he made during the best season of his eight-year career.

The good news is that Smith began to show signs of life during the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ 93-82 Game 4 loss in Indiana. He went 5-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range on his way to 12 fourth quarter points, after entering the quarter with just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting.

The Knicks are hoping that Smith’s strong fourth quarter carries over to Game 5. Otherwise, the Knicks’ season might come to a close tonight.

Jon Krouner is the New York Giants writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkrouner  ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+