New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York

J.R. Smith sounds like blog commenter, says Knicks are contenders


There are some very thoughtful, basketball smart Knicks fans out there. As a whole they know the game.

And then there are the Knicks fans who vastly overestimate how good their team really is and think the franchise is still thought of like it’s 1972.

Apparently, J.R. Smith falls in the later group. The Knicks swingman and designated gunner off the bench told that he thinks on paper this Knicks team — which has two Olympians — could be as good as any team in the league.

“Right now with the talent we have, what it says on paper is championship all day. But it’s a matter of us going out there and doing it,” Smith said after appearing at an event in Harlem at Nike’s House of Hoops to promote/give away some Nike sneakers to children.…

Smith believes the moves the Knicks made in the offseason give them enough talent to “compete with anybody.”

Um… no.

First off, an offseason that got you Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd does not make you that much better.

I think this discussion starts with how good you think Carmelo Anthony is — if you think he is a top 5 NBA player and leader then you think the Knicks are contenders. I would call him an elite scorer, but would put him more around 10-12, not on the “you can build a title contender around him” level of LeBron James or Kevin Durant.

Bigger than that, LeBron and Dwyane Wade have worked out the chemistry issues on that team, along with Chris Bosh. They play well off each other now, they succeed together on the court. The Knicks are not there. Things are awkward when ‘Melo and Amare Stoudemire share the floor. Their games do not mesh seamlessly, and until they do you can’t discuss them with the Heat. Or the Celtics. (And even if ‘Melo and Amare figure it out, you run into the problem they are not as good as LeBron and Wade.)

The Knicks are going to be good next year. The high end is a three seed, the low end the six. My guess is they get the four or five spot. They could finally advance out of the first round.

But they are not contenders, sorry J.R. They may not even be the best team in the five boroughs.

Nick Young wears Gilbert Arenas’ old shoes during game (PHOTO)

Nick Young, Devin Harris
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In a disastrous Lakers season, one thing can be counted on (besides Byron Scott saying absurd things about Kobe Bryant): Nick Young will always be able to lighten the mood. He brought some levity to the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night with a blast from the past: a pair of gold shoes formerly worn by his ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.

These shoes, like Swaggy, and like Gilbert before the injuries and the guns, are awesome and should be celebrated.

Blake Griffin hits acrobatic three-pointer to beat the shot clock (VIDEO)

Blake Griffin
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During the third quarter of the Clippers’ Tuesday night win over the Nuggets, Blake Griffin had some SportsCenter-worthy acrobatics that had nothing to do with dunking. He caught a ball in the air behind the three-point line as the shot clock expired and sank this buzzer-beater:

It was just his third made three of the season.

Report: Hornets sign head coach Steve Clifford to three-year extension

Steve Clifford
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With the Hornets fighting for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, head coach Steve Clifford’s future with the team has been a mystery hanging over their heads. Clifford, in his third year with the team, was set to become a free agent after this season. Not anymore. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports that the Hornets have signed Clifford to a contract extension that will keep him in town through the 2018-19 season:

The Charlotte Hornets and coach Steve Clifford have come to an agreement on a multi-year extension, the Observer has learned.

The deal includes a three-year guarantee that would keep Clifford in his current role through the 2018-19 season.

In Clifford’s first year with the Hornets (then the Bobcats) in 2013-14, they made the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history. This season, they’re off to an 8-6 start despite losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a season-ending shoulder injury during the preseason.
With several teams potentially having openings this summer, it was smart of the Hornets to keep Clifford off the market.

Griffin, Jordan each score 18, Clippers beat Nuggets 111-94

Blake Griffin
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DENVER (AP) Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan each scored 18 points and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 111-94 on Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Jordan finished with 11 rebounds and four blocks, while Griffin had 10 rebounds. Chris Paul had 15 points and 10 assists to give the Clippers (7-7) three players with double-doubles.

The Clippers, who hadn’t been under .500 this far into a season under Doc Rivers, made eight 3-pointers after coming into the game at 31.3 percent.

The Clippers hit their first four shots from deep, missed their next seven but found the stroke again when Jamal Crawford hit a halfcourt shot to give them an 83-72 lead at the end of the third.

Danilo Gallinari led Denver with 20 points and had a career-high 18 rebounds.

Crawford scored the Clippers’ first seven points of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 90-76. He finished with 15 points.

Denver started fouling Jordan, and the center was just 7 of 16 from the line in the fourth, but Denver couldn’t hit enough shots to close the gap.

His dunk on a lob from Paul gave the Clippers a 110-93 lead.

Griffin was struggling from the field until he hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock midway through the third. He hit two more shots and fed Jordan for a dunk to give the Clippers a 73-62 lead.

Rookie Nikola Jokic had 16 points and Gary Harris scored 14 for the Nuggets, who have lost four straight and fell to 3-5 at home.


Clippers: J.J. Redick had 16 points. … Griffin reached double digits in rebounds for the first time in seven games. He averaged 6.5 boards in his previous six games. … The Clippers were outrebounded for the 12th time in 14 games. They are 5-7 when that happens.

Nuggets: All of Gallinari’s rebounds came on the defensive end. … F Kenneth Faried missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. With C Joffrey Lauvergne (low back strain) also out, the Nuggets were down to 11 players. … Mike Miller made a rare first-half appearance and gave the Nuggets a jolt with two 3-pointers in seven minutes off the bench. He finished with nine points.


Clippers: Host Utah on Wednesday night.

Nuggets: Host San Antonio on Friday night.