J.R. Smith to shoulder load amid injuries
by Jeffrey Martin, USA TODAY Sports
PORTLAND, Ore. — The stars have fallen, causing the New York Knicks’ once-promising season to lose direction.
Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to miss six weeks following knee surgery. Carmelo Anthony had fluid drained from his right knee Thursday in New York and is expected to rejoin the team Friday in Los Angeles, possibly to play Sunday against the Clippers. And Tyson Chandler, who banged his knee Wednesday, is day-to-day. He didn’t play in New York’s 105-90 loss to the Trail Blazers, the Knicks’ third in a row and fourth in five games.
J.R. Smith can overcome this.
He can’t do it alone, of course, although his talent is tantalizing enough at times to suggest otherwise. But he believes the Knicks, collectively, with or without their stars, can.
“We can’t turn the ball over and give up layups,” Smith said Thursday. “If we play like we did tonight, we’ll be fine.”
He was referring to how
the Knicks competed, a theme echoed by coach Mike Woodson. He was not referring to the 21 field goal attempts he took en route to a game-high 33 points, although it’s clear Smith will have to shoulder much of the offensive responsibility until the reinforcements return.
Smith bristled at the suggestion that he has emerged as New York’s focal point on offense, although the statistics are hard to refute.
“I think I get the same touches, maybe a little more,” he said.
Still, he remains the sixth man, a situation that hasn’t changed even during this epic spate of injuries. Citing a desire to inject a little more offense into the starting unit, Woodson went with rookie forward Chris Copeland, who at 6-8 and 225 pounds is roughly the same physical dimensions as Anthony.
Someone has to pick up the slack, right?
It sort of worked — Copeland scored a quick six points for the visitors. He finished with nine.
At halftime, the Knicks’ leading scorer was Kenyon Martin, the 35-year-old former No. 1 overall draft choice whom New York signed on Feb. 21. Noted for his toughness and defensive prowess, Martin was prolific on the receiving end of pick-and-rolls with Jason Kidd, a fellow … [For more on J.R. Smith ready to shoulder load amid Knicks injuries, click here.]