Knicks swingman J.R. Smith has not been good during the team’s second-round series against the Indiana Pacers, which New York trails 3-1 after Tuesday’s 93-82 loss in Indy.
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Of that, there is no dispute — not even from Smith, himself.
Through four games, the recently crowned NBA Sixth Man of the Year has averaged 13.3 points, nearly five below his season average. And the way the notorious chucker has done it has been downright hideous: on 18-of-64 (28.1 percent) shooting from the field and 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) shooting from outside.
Smith has been so bad that even he can’t defend his play. And on Tuesday night, after a 7-of-22 performance that saw him go 2 of 12 in the first three quarters, Smith took the blame for the entire series, which appears all but certain to end with the Knicks going home. (In NBA history, only eight teams have won a series after trailing 3-1.)
"I take the blame for this whole series," Smith told reporters in Indianapolis. "It started off with Game 4 in Boston or Game 5. I haven’t been playing (like) myself. I haven’t been playing my part. I’ve been letting my teammates down. I’ve been letting my coaches down. And it doesn’t feel good."
Smith earned a suspension for Game 4 of the Knicks’ first-round series against the Celtics after elbowing Jason Terry in Game 3. In the final two games of New York’s 4-2 win, Smith shot a combined 8 of 27 from the floor. On Saturday in Game 3, Smith played with a 102-degree fever, but his was hardly reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s “flu game.” Smith had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in the loss.
It didn’t get much better on Tuesday, and if it doesn’t soon, the Knicks’ season won’t last much longer. Game 5 is Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
“Everybody’s been encouraging me, ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting,’” Smith said Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get to the basket, trying to get easy ones, easy layups, get to the free-throw line. But I’m even missing layups, too. I missed a technical free throw tonight. It’s just frustrating.”