Oh no, not again.
Late-game disaster struck again for New York, who held possession with the score tied at 100 and 43.3 seconds on the clock. After a series of drives and passes that led nowhere, Carmelo Anthony skipped a pass along the baseline to Beno Udrih in the right corner, who lined up a three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining. The shot rimmed off, but Tyson Chandler was able to pull down the offensive rebound with 24 seconds remaining, thereby giving New York the opportunity to hold possession for the last shot.
Chandler kicked the ball out to Udrih, who swung the ball to Smith at the top of the key. Unable to resist pulling the trigger on a wide open three-pointer, even as Chandler motioned for him to hold the ball and work the clock, Smith let off a three that bricked long. In the ensuing battle for the rebound, Udrih fouled Aaron Brooks, who was awarded two free throws with 17 seconds remaining because New York was in the penalty. Brooks made both free throws, and the Knicks were unable to score on their final possession, when a runner from Udrih rolled out.
Smith told reporters that he thought New York was trailing by two, rather than tied, when he launched his three-pointer.
The blunder comes less than a month after Andrea Bargnani's nightmare three-point attempt against the Bucks, a shot that baffled two television broadcasting crews and the entire Knicks bench back in mid-December. Smith wasn't spared by the commentators this time around either.
"If J.R. Smith holds up, the Knicks can hold for the last shot of the game," Comcast SportsNet Houston color commentator Clyde Drexler noted. "He wasn't thinking, we know that."
Comparing and contrasting the shots by Bargnani and Smith is a fairly masochistic exercise. On the one hand, Bargnani's was particularly egregious because Milwaukee had no choice but to foul him, which would have given him a chance to put the game out of reach via free throws. On the other, Smith's decision was essentially the worst possible outcome given the time/score situation, as New York was headed to overtime if they had properly used the clock and still come up empty. On the one hand, Bargnani launched his shot while shooting just 29.3 percent from deep on the season. On the other hand, Smith is only hitting 35.2 percent of his triples this season, and he was 1-for-8 from deep against the Rockets. On the one hand, Bargnani left his teammates utterly shocked. On the other, Smith managed to forget the lesson learned from Bargnani's earlier incident while also ignoring Chandler's clear instruction.
The tie-breaker here: New York was able to overcome Bargnani's blunder and still escape with a victory. The Knicks would have no such luck against the Rockets, and they instead suffered their fourth defeat in their last five games.
"Bone head play," Smith tweeted after the game. "Slander well deserved!"
Smith finished with nine points (on 3-for-13 shooting), two assists and two steals in 31 minutes. Iman Shumpert led the Knicks with a team-high 26 points (on 9-for-14 shooting), five assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes.
James Harden scored a game-high 37 points (on 10-for-19 shooting) and added seven rebounds and six assists for the Rockets in 44 minutes. Chandler Parsons chipped in 17 points (on 6-for-13 shooting) and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes.
Houston improved to 22-13 with the victory. New York dropped to 10-22 with the loss. Video via YouTube user cjzerovids