After Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup for the New York Knicks on Thursday night to help give the Knickerbockers an impressive win over one of the NBA’s best in the San Antonio Spurs, New York had the chance to earn yet another impressive win over a daunting Western Conference opponent.
The Knicks kept pace with the Houston Rockets all night on Friday, even withstanding a flurry of offense late in the fourth quarter from Rockets star guard James Harden. With less than a minute remaining and the game tied at 100, the Knicks had the ball with the chance to take the lead.
On the first play of the possession, the Knicks wound the shot clock all the way down and got a look from the corner from Beno Udrih; the shot missed. However, Tyson Chandler was there to tip out the rebound that went back to Udrih. With less than 24 seconds on the clock and the shot clock now off, Udrih kicked the ball over to J.R. Smith, more than likely expecting Smith to hold the ball for the last shot.
Smith did not hold the ball for the last shot.
Instead, Smith pulled up from the top of the key, missing his three-point attempt. The Rockets got the ensuing rebound and Aaron Brooks was fouled. Brooks went to the line, sank both of his free throws that were ultimately the deciding points in this game.
Smith’s blunder certainly brought back memories of Andrea Bargnani’s ill-fated three-point attempt against the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, though the Knicks won that game. Smith’s reasoning behind it certainly doesn’t help his case either as he said after the game that he thought that New York was down by two when he took the shot.
When I hear Smith say that he was unaware of the score late in a close game, it really signifies a lack of focus, a lack of discipline, and an air of carelessness. With the way the Knicks have squandered opportunities to turn things around this season and have seemed out-of-sync so often, it really seems that Smith’s poor decision (along with Bargnani’s) really defines this season for New York.