Smith's 36 points not enough for Knicks win
Updated: 2013-03-08 16:41
By Yan Weijue in New York (chinadaily.com.cn)
On the Knicks' last home game against defending champion Miami Heat, JR Smith went through an off night, scoring 13 points on a 5-for 18 shooting. This time he turned it around, notching up a season-high 36 points against Oklahoma City Thunder, another elite team in the league.
But still, Smith put on a gloomy face in the locker room after the game, which the Knicks lost 95-94 despite a potential game-winner by him.
New York Knicks' J.R. Smith (L) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha during the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York, March 7, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
"I tried to get to my spot where I wanted to. The turnaround jumper was a tough shot in that situation," Smith breakdown his last shot. "I should've gone to the basket to draw a foul, but it didn't work that way."
Smith, who had 18 points in the second quarter, and 13 in the third, was held to only 5 points in the final quarter where seven of his nine shots were misfired.
''My jumper was pretty much good all night except for the fourth quarter and just didn't go in,'' Smith said.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton had 16 points apiece for the Knicks. Tyson Chandler added 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Kevin Durant, the league's lead scorer (28.6 ppg) finished with a team-high 34 points, 12 of which were from the fourth quarter, along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He nailed a pair of free throws with 1:38 left put Thunder in front for good.
Without their Marque player Carmelo Anthony, who was absent from a second straight game due to a sore knee, the Knicks fought hard all night against their intimidating rival. Thunder torched the home team with 59 first half points behind Russell Westbrook's 19 points. But Smith, coming off the bench in the second quarter, exploded for 18 points to ensure the Knicks stayed in the game, trailing only 3 points at half time.
The Knicks' hot shooting streak continued in the third quarter as Smith and Stoudemire combined 19 of the team's 25 points, while the Thunder cooled off with 16. The Knicks finished the quarter with a 6-point lead before Durant and Thunder awoke in the final 12 minutes.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson was well aware of their efforts.
"I was very pleased the way we defended throughout the game," said Woodson. "you play one of the best teams in the league. And you don't have one of your best players, yet we still had shot to win. I tip my hat to my guys."