The New York Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets Friday night in a heartbreaker. The Knicks’ execution down the stretch was faulty in a number of ways, but the play that sticks out most was J.R. Smith’s decision to hoist a three-pointer with the shot clock off in the final 20 seconds in a tied game. Smith, of course, bricked it — was 1-8 from downtown for the whole night — and the Rockets secured the ball. Beno Udrih, in a questionable move, fouled Aaron Brooks while going for an offensive rebound. The rockets hit their free throws, New York missed two chances at a game-winner and lost.
Again, this begins with Smith. Tyson Chandler pulled down a crucial offensive rebound off of an Udrih missed, passed it back out to Udrih, who whipped the ball to Smith. Sure, the pass probably wasn’t a good idea, but three Knicks all yelled at Smith to hold the ball when he got it. Does Smith, a nine-year veteran, need to be told that when you have the chance to hold for the last shot of the game, win or go to overtime, that you don’t launch the first open look you get?
Apparently so. Mike Woodson, in the pregame media scrum today, addressed that final play. The answer, of course, was shocking:
Wait, wait, wait. So J.R., who forced a bad shot that pretty much led to the Knicks losing the game, simply went blank…. But Beno Udrih, that friggin’ guy, who received a pass in the corner off the offensive board, who moved it to the top of the key and immediately threw up his hands to say “don’t shoot!”, I mean, come on! Why did that guy need to pass the ball?! Couldn’t he have just reset the offense from the right corner? Couldn’t he have just waited for a trap to come in the corner and then force a bad pass that would probably have been picked off?!
Luckily, ole Mike Woodson is on the trail. Woodson, the handyman he is, is here to fix’r up! He knows the problems, he knows the solutions!
Woodson is basically acknowledging that J.R. Smith has such a low-IQ on the court that Udrih should have known better than to pass to him in such a situation. If that’s the case, why is the guy who was 3-12 from the field, 1-7 from deep until that point, on the court?! If Smith can’t be trusted to know the situation (in fact, he didn’t. Smith said after the game that he thought the Knicks were down two), he shouldn’t be on the court. But instead, Woodson blames Udrih for passing Smith the ball to reset the offense?
Keep in mind, Udrih was the most vocal critic of Woodson’s two weeks ago when he said that Woodson points fingers too much. Udrih also said he feels that he caught an unfair amount of blame after the loss to the Washington Wizards, and that Woodson needs to work on being a “a person,” not just a coach.
How lovely. Just as it seemed things were turning around.
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