After getting benched during New York’s big win over the visiting Heat on Thursday, coach Mike Woodson inserted J.R. Smith back into the rotation when the Knicks played the Sixers on Saturday night. He played efficiently in over 27 minutes of action, but it was his kick block of Evan Turner that got our attention.
Smith was 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc for 14 points and six assists as the Knicks won their fourth straight, 102-92.
Smith described to Ian Begley of ESPN New York what he learned from his benching:
“Don’t goof around, I guess. Be serious. Be a professional. And just don’t take this opportunity here you have for granted,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in this world that want our jobs. You can’t take it for granted. It can be taken away just that fast.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” Smith said of getting benched.
“He’s been telling me that since I got here,” Smith said Saturday morning. “Honestly, ‘growing up,’ I don’t know if I really understand the true meaning of it.”
Just a reminder, here’s an important paragraph from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski in his arresting piece on J.R. this past week:
Everyone understands how this will go now: Smith will tell everyone that he needs to grow up, that he’s let down his coach and teammates and fans. The Knicks will start to play him again, and it’s just a matter of time until Smith’s self-destructive act will resurface. Once again, he’ll be ignorant to the score in the final seconds of a game – like the loss he cost the Knicks in Houston – or he’ll get into trouble off the floor. Or probably both.
Wojnarowski’s clairvoyance seems spot-on so far. Smith’s back in the lineup, so when does the other — probably unlaced — sneaker drop?
Has J.R. Smith finally turned over a new leaf?
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