Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
J.R. Smith questionable tonight, but Carmelo Anthony says he'll play
INDIANAPOLIS – The Knicks went through shootaround this morning without J.R. Smith, who Mike Woodson said had a 102-degree temperature.
The Knicks are listing Smith as questionable tonight against the Pacers. But Carmelo Anthony removed any question about Smith’s status for the pivotal Game 3 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series that’s tied at 1-1.
“J.R. is going to play tonight,” Anthony. “Yeah. We’re going to get him right. That’s what we’ve got team doctors for. That’s why there’s medicine and things like that. He’ll be all right, hopefully.”
Smith has been under the microscope lately and not just because of what he’s done on the basketball court. Smith reportedly was out clubbing the night before Game 1 and was seen out recently with singer Rihanna.
The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year hasn’t addressed any of these reports or rumors because he hasn’t made himself available to the media lately. He didn’t speak to reporters at the Knicks’ last three practices.
“I think with J.R., especially in his situation the things that have been going on and the being said about him it could easily build up and become very stressful and strenuous on one person,” Anthony said. “So for us as a team and [as] a guy who’s been there with him since he came into the NBA, especially now I just try to give him positive energy.
“We try to be positive with him in the locker room, on the bus and just try to make it that type of environment because you never know what somebody is going through off the court mentally so we can be there for him mentally. When he comes into the gym that’s his sanctuary so he should be able to come in there and exhale just really focus in.”
Smith has been struggling since returning from his one-game suspension for elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry in the first round of these playoffs.
In his last four games, Smith is shooting 15-of-57 (26.3 percent) and is averaging 13 points. Smith averaged 18.1 points and shot 42.2 percent in the regular season.
“Shooters go through shooting slumps,” Woodson said. “To me the only way you get out of it is you’ve got to continue to put the time in on the court shooting, and teammates and people around you, you’ve got to have some positive vibes, man. And then mentally, you’ve got to be stronger than how you’re struggling. That’s how you become a player in this league.
“My thing is I think he’ll figure it out eventually. We’re going to need him to figure it out if we plan on getting out of this series because he’s a big part of our offense. So we’ve just got to gauge it. I don’t know if he’s going to play tonight. If he don’t, somebody else has got to step up and help us win.”