J.R. Smith began the 2012-2013 season on a tear by shooting lights out from the field and from 3-point range during the month of November. J.R. was also stepping up in the rebounding category where he was averaging about 5 boards per game, a career high. He was playing smart, doing all the right things on both sides of the ball, and limiting his random acts of craziness that used to make George Karl irate. J.R. accepted his role as New York’s 6th man and seemed to be flourishing in Mike Woodson’s system.
J.R.’s incredible November was followed by a dreadful cold streak that lasted the first two weeks of December. During that time, Smith was going back to his old ways. His shot selection was highly questionable, he was committing dumb fouls and he was turning the ball over a bit too much. Other than his miraculous game winner against the still horrible Bobcats, Smith was having one of the worst months of his career. After another dreadful shooting performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers where he went 6-20, Coach Mike Woodson wanted to have a sit down with Smith the next day at the Knicks’ practice facility.
Sure enough, the goatee worked its magic. Whatever Woodson told Smith on that December 16th practice obviously clicked with the high flyer. The next day in a losing effort against the young and quick Houston Rockets, Smith shot an efficient 7 for 13 and scored 17 points. J.R. was one of the few bright spots in a game where the Knicks were once against manhandled by the youngest team in the Western Conference. Two days later in a win against the New Je… I mean Brooklyn Nets; Smith scored 19 points off of 7 for 11 shooting. In the 4 point blowout loss against the Chicago Bulls, J.R scored 26 points (9-20 from the field, 4-6 from beyond the arc) and pulled down 10 rebounds before fouling out in the 4th quarter. Smith also had a long buzzer beating 3-pointer to end a quarter in that game versus Chicago.
Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves was yet another strong performance from J.R. Smith. He had one of his most complete games of the season by scoring 19 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, passing for 7 assists, and coming up with 3 steals. Not to mention, Smith completely posterized former Boston Celtic Greg Stiemsma in the 2nd quarter on a monster one-handed jam off a strong drive to the basket.
Thankfully for us Knicks fans, we seem to be in the midst of one of J.R.’s classic hot streaks where it seems like no matter what the opposition does to stop Smith from scoring, he finds a way to put the ball in the basket. Without doubt, we have seen a more consistent and more focused J.R. Smith so far this season. This consistency can largely be attributed to Coach Woodson, who seems to have a father-like connection with Smith as he appears to help Smith get through tough times like no other coach has been able to. I am curious to see how long this current hot streak lasts and how long it’ll be before I have to write an article about a J.R. cold steak. Hopefully, that time won’t come for a while.