J.R. Smith named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

New York Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith has been on some kind of roll the last couple of weeks and the result has been an eight-game win streak for the Knicks.

While the Knicks have been rolling as a team, Smith has been busy putting on his best LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or even Carmelo Anthony imitation.

Mar 31, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) puts up a layup over Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won the game 108-89. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

He has performed as one of the top scorers in the NBA over the course of the past couple of weeks and his scorching hot play as gotten him some notice around the league as Smith was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Smith averaged 29.8 points (second in the league), 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals last week, leading the Knicks to a 4-0 record.

He also had three straight games of 30-plus points, making him the first bench player to accomplish that feat in over 20 years. Milwaukee’s Ricky Pierce scored 30 or more in four straight games in 1990.

However it just wasn’t Smith’s numbers that were impressive, it’s the way he has been going about getting those numbers.

It’s like Smith woke up one day and decided to change the way he plays the game. Instead of settling for countless contested jumpers, Smith has turned into an efficient player who thrives on getting to the rim.

Before the recent streak, only 25 percent of Smith’s field goal attempts on the season came in the paint. That number is suddenly up to 58 percent. That alone speaks volumes to the success the Knicks and Smith are having as of late.

If Smith can continue to play this way instead of reverting back to an average jump shooter, the Knicks will be a scary team heading into the postseason.

“He’s starting to figure it out,”  Knicks head coach Mike Woodson told ESPN’s Ian Begley.

It’s nice that he has been recognized for it as well.

Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.

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Topics: J.R. Smith, Mike Woodson, New York Knicks

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