The New York Knicks walked away from Charlotte with a 100-98 win over the Bobcats. On any other night, that's just another win to tuck into the left-hand side of the standings and walk on, but tonight it was J.R. Smith personified.
In case you missed it, the Knicks were tied at 98 with Charlotte with just a few seconds left as they sprinted toward their own basket on a two-on-one break.
Enter J.R. Smith.
What followed was the greatest "Yes! NO! YESSS!" moment in the NBA this year, in that something good led to something terrible that in turn led to something amazing.
Only in this case it was probably a lot closer to "Yes! NO! YES! NOOOOOOO! YEAAAHHHHH!"
If you don't believe me, just check out what happened here:
I could tell you what went on, but I'd rather let @HPBasketball give you a pretty good feeling of what was going through everyone's mind throughout that 12 seconds of basketball.
WHAT THE HELL IS JR SMITH DOING?!— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 6, 2012
First JR passes up the fast break, then he dribbbles off time, then you can tell he was like OH GOTTA SHOOT A FADEAWAY 3! WOODSON:NONONONO— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 6, 2012
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 6, 2012
It appears to me that those two plays pretty much sum up J.R. Smith as we knew him, and now as we know him, and both plays had bits of both Smiths.
The steal was a terrific defensive play by Smith to help out Raymond Felton. If Smith doesn't track the ball, then he doesn't tap it to Felton and the break never happens.
However, he gets the ball back a few seconds later, and instead of streaking to the rim on the other side of the defender he faded to the three-point line and inexplicably dribbled the clock down for a few seconds before Jason Kidd nearly suplexed the referee trying to call a timeout.
Fast-forward a few seconds and Smith perfectly breaks away from his defender, decides the final shot is his, drives just inside the three-point line, takes an inexplicable fall-away jumper and, of course, completely nails it.
The Bobcats crowd goes nuts, something that would have happened regardless of the team who did it. That was such a ridiculous sequence that any crowd would have reacted raucously after seeing such crazy basketball working out for the better.
J.R. Smith continually leads the NBA in "that was good defense, but better offense" television analysis.— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) December 6, 2012
Of course, even when Smith has his lapses, he ultimately ends up pulling himself together and making things work out, at least he has so far this season.
Just take a look at Smith blocking a shot earlier on in the game:
The block was extremely good help defense. The celebration afterward was vintage J.R. It seems to me we can easily get the good with the bad when it comes to him this season, which is a terrific advantage for the Knicks.
Despite the fact that he's shooting well early on this season (42 percent from the field, but 45 percent from the three-point line), there's always the feeling that he's going to slip back into his old self, as he did tonight in terms of shot selection and not shooting (or calling a timeout) when he should have, which in turn led to him being forced to take a ridiculous game-winner in the end.
However, it's been impressive watching him pass up ugly shots, distribute much better and even play hard-nosed defense at times.
As long as he continues to move away from his old, fast-break three-point shooting self and move toward his ball-hawking, somehow impossible-shot-making new self, then the Knicks could have themselves a Sixth Man of the Year Award winner in their midst.