By Ben Golliver
Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been all over the highlight reels this season, and he turned in another worthy effort during the fourth quarter of a 100-83 win over the Spurs at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
With the Knicks leading 90-72 with a little less than six minutes remaining in the game, Smith cut hard backdoor, setting up an excellent lob opportunity, as no Spurs defenders were manning the middle. Pablo Prigioni appeared to read the play a little late and delivered a pass that reached a soaring Smith at waist-level. (On the replay, it almost looks as if Prigioni wasn't even expecting Smith to jump, as the low trajectory whip pass would have been more appropriate if Smith had kept cutting through the key to the far side of the rim.) Regardless, Smith received the pass right at his belt, in mid-air, and with his back turned to the hoop. In one sweeping motion, he shifted the ball into his right hand and completed a smooth reverse dunk on the fly-by. The flush was so breathtaking and natural that it's not even worth deducting points to account for fact that the Spurs starters had already been shut down.
Smith finished with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block on nine-for-17 shooting in 27 minutes. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 23 points and eight rebounds. Gary Neal had a team-high 12 points for the Spurs, who lost forward Stephen Jackson to a fluke ankle injury when he fell onto a courtside waitress as she served New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
New York improved to 22-10 with the win; San Antonio fell to 26-9.