UPDATE 7.44 p.m. ET: J.R. Smith is now expected to play in Game 3, according to multiple reports, including this one from the New York Post.
1:02 p.m. ET: New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith missed shootaround on Saturday and is questionable for Game 3 against the Pacers, according to the team’s official public relations Twitter page.
The reason given for Smith’s absence was illness, and head coach Mike Woodson told reporters his Sixth Man of the Year was home with a 102 degree fever (via Al Innazzone of Newsday).
But it’s worth noting that Smith has been mired in a dreadful shooting slump, and has gone just 7-of-30 from the field over his last two games. Woodson has said he would consider benching Smith in favor of more productive options should he continue to struggle.
Smith hasn’t spoken to reporters since after the team’s Game 2 win, and the Knicks are famously protective of their players where the media is concerned. In addition to the shooting woes, Smith was seen partying with singer Rihanna this week, and while a majority of players in the league are out late consistently, Smith is under the microscope playing where he does, and his actions are being scrutinized even more closely considering his recent performance.
On a more positive note, the Knicks are expected to see Amar’e Stoudemire return to the lineup for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in early March. He’s expected to play 10-15 minutes off the bench, and if healthy, could be a big help to New York’s chances against the big front line of the Pacers.
Houston Rockets G Patrick Beverley is known around the NBA for being a dogged defender. His skill set was on full display on Friday night, where Beverley shut down Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook on a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
It all started early in the matchup, when Beverley — notorious for getting under the skin of both Westbrook and other NBA opponents — flopped with some serious gusto just 36 seconds into the first quarter.
The game continued like this, but the real highlight of Beverley’s defensive night was stopping Westbrook — who dropped his 7th straight triple-double — on an isolation play with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.
With the ball on the left garden spot, Westbrook gave a couple of dribble hesitation moves to Beverley, then tried to rise up for the go-ahead bucket.
Beverley was right up on him, and forced an airball from Westbrook:
The Rockets guard was so happy about the stop and the eventual win that he celebrated a little too enthusiastically with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.
Going for a chest bump, Beverley wound up blasting through his own coach:
Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, on and off the court. They joked around in the locker room after their win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 101-94, but the comedy started before the two even left the floor.
In a postgame interview with CSNNE DeRozan was asked what the message was at halftime from coach Dewane Casey.
DeRozan — with Lowry looking devious in the background of the shot — was gracious.
“Just get [Lowry] the ball,” DeRozan smiled.
Pleased with the result, Lowry responded with a “That’s a good message right there!” before running off to the locker room.
The interview continued to be interrupted, with Raptors big man Jared Sullinger giving the camera a drive by “DeMar for President!”
New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount even showed up to show DeRozan some love.
The Golden State Warriors are so talented, perhaps the officials are predisposed to blowing whistles in their favor. At least, that’s the only explanation you could give to a Utah Jazz fan after seeing what happened between Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Utah’s Joe Johnson on Thursday night.
As Durant came off a curl on the far side of the court, he used a screen set by Curry on Johnson.
With the ball in his hands, Durant rose to fire but found himself locked in arms with another player. Durant’s shot attempt helplessly bounced away as he shot, and officials whistled Johnson on the play.
Of course, a closer look reveals that the player Durant’s arms were tangled up with was … Curry.
Yes, Curry had arm locked what he thought was Johnson on the screen but was instead his teammate and MVP candidate.
It didn’t matter, as referees awarded Durant the free throws, of which he only made 1 of 2.
Perhaps that’s some solace?
Golden State beat Utah, 106-99.
New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.
DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.
During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.
Looks about right.