No one ever said that J.R. Smith was shy about shooting the ball. He also takes the kind of off-balance shots that make fans and coaches cringe.
He took that kind of shot when he got a steal midway through the third quarter, when he intercepted an outlet pass from Chris Bosh and let go a quick 3-pointer in the left corner before anyone could get back.
Smith hit the shot -- the only one of eight 3-pointers he attempted -- but the score cut Miami’s lead to one, and seemed to change the complexion of the game.
Interim coach Mike Woodson said “the steal that J.R. had and then the three in the corner really jump-started us, got the fans really back into it and we never looked back.”
Woodson started Smith in the second half ahead of Landry Fields because the coach said he was searching for offense. Smith was aggressive looking for his shot but never found it. He shot 3-for-15 from the field and 1-for-8 behind the arc, drawing comparisons to John Starks’ 2-for-18 outing in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets.
There wasn’t quite the same at stake in Game 4 of the first round Sunday but Smith revealed a Starks-like mentality after the game.
“We just got to keep shooting, especially for me, as long as I keep shooting,” Smith said. “When it’s not falling, you have to believe that the next one is gonna fall. I think that’s for the rest of our teammates, for myself, Steve (Novak), Mike (Bibby), once one or two fall we’ll be fine.”
He also said later: "I’ve had games where I went 9-for-10 and games where I went 1-for-20 so it’s just a matter of keep playing. Being a shooter, you have to have a short-term memory so I don’t really focus on it too much.”