Mike Woodson on J.R. Smith After Game 5: 'I Have Faith in Him'

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2013

After the New York Knicks fought off elimination with an 85-75 win in Game 5 against the Indiana Pacers, Mike Woodson expressed confidence in his much-maligned guard and conviction in his approach moving forward.

With 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting, J.R. Smith turned in another relatively unspectacular offensive performance Thursday night.

But Woodson voiced his endorsement of his guard, noting his positive effort and impact on the game:

Woodson on @therealjrsmith: "I thought he was focused. He did a lot of good things. I have faith in him." #Knicks

— NBA New York Knicks (@nyknicks) May 17, 2013

Smith may have had a low-scoring night, but he got to the free-throw line a handful of times, grabbed six boards and swiped three steals.

The bottom line is that his head is in the game.

J.R. made that clear in his postgame comments, noting that the social media hoopla over his controversial social life is the least of his worries.

JR Smith: "I'm not worried about Instagram. I'm worried about the playoffs."

— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 17, 2013

Fortunately for Knicks fans, Woodson does have control of his club, and the head coach has helped put the team in a position to send this series to a pivotal seventh game.

He pretty much pushed all the right buttons for New York to defend its home court in Game 5, including playing Chris Copeland 19 minutes while Amar'e Stoudemire and Jason Kidd played a combined 12.

When asked about his in-game decisions, Woodson gave a simple reply:

Woodson says "I'm the coach" on why he benched Kidd and Amar'e. Says he don't think they'll be upset.

— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 17, 2013

New York seeks to take Woodson's winning formula back to Indianapolis, where it faces another do-or-die situation with the Pacers. The Knicks hope to translate their strong rebounding effort and tight defense to Game 6.

At least they know their leader has a good grip on everything.


Follow me on Twitter for more NBA playoff chatter: @DanielO_BR