Although Miami did not let its fans down, snatching its 53rd win of the season, J.R. Smith was the star of the show. Smithâ€™s three-point play was of historic caliber, setting the NBA record for three-pointers attempted (22) and the Knicks record for three-pointers made (10). The star shooting guard has also made 24 shots from behind the arc over the last three consecutive games, yet another NBA record.
With Smithâ€™s hot hand late in the season, the Knicks should have no problem winning games. However, this is not the case.
Behind J.R. Smithâ€™s latest success, Carmelo Anthony has struggled. Anthony racked up a mere 10 points in Fridayâ€™s loss to the Wizards, committing just one less turnover than points total (9). Anthonyâ€™s woes continued on Sunday, shooting a disappointing 4 of 17 for 13 points, one of his worst performances all season. But even worse, Carmelo did not attempt even one shot in the fourth quarter, putting the burden of scoring on J.R. Smith.
As good as J.R.â€™s been, he cannot outscore LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh combined. After all, it is expected that a player paid over $15 million more should take some of the scoring load, a notion that Anthony has honored through most of the season. But with the Knicks panicking to secure a playoff spot with four games remaining, this is the last situation in which Carmelo should be easing off the gas pedal.
The Knicks sit two games behind the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference, losing their grasp on a playoff spot. In addition, the team has four games remaining, all against current playoff teams. Conversely, the Hawks have a mellow schedule, playing only two playoff teams in their remaining six games. The Knicks may have fallen short this season, despite spending the 2nd most capital on player salaries, trailing only the Brooklyn Nets in the category.
J.R. Smith is hot at the right time. Itâ€™s just a shame he needs to break records to secure a lottery pick instead of a playoff ticket.
Â - Tim Sauchuk is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.comÂ