Lot’s of talk around the interwebs and the Twitters claiming that J.R. Smith’s performance last night was “clutch”.
How clutch was JR Smith last night? He scored 8 points in the final 4:40. Each bucket either tied the game or gave the #Knicks a lead.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 12, 2012
Indeed J.R. Smith did do the things that Mr. Begley pointed out. But that, the whole story, is not. Smith was actually 2/5 for the quarter. The two makes were from three. He also had 2 foul shots. But that 2/5 stretch was part of a much longer 5/13, -12 stretch. For most of this longer stretch (e.g., the game), most fans on Twitter remarked that J.R. was killing (or synonym) the Knicks. Before the 4th quarter, his numbers looked even worse:
JR Smith is 3/10 and -22.
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) April 12, 2012
But I get what Woody is trying to do. Smith has always been feast or famine. He’s always been a streaky shooter so you know that at some point, you’ll be rewarded for being permissive with unabashed gunning. What good is a player like Smith if you aren’t going to allow him to be himself (especially when he makes other contributions, and lately he has been). Sooner or later Woodson’s faith in J.R. is going to be rewarded, with like 3 to 8 quick succession threes in a big game. And his shooting numbers will eventually revert to the mean (he’s shooting just 38% from the field this season despite a career average of 42.6%).
Two points: 1) Woodson’s faith in J.R. nearly cost the Knicks a couple close games with the playoffs hanging in the balance; 2) Let’s not pretend J.R. Smith “saved” us in either instance.
Get more great New York Knicks analysis over at KnicksFan.