The Knicks’ winning streak is over. J.R. Smith’s benching may be beginning all over again.
Smith did not play in the Knicks’ 108-98 loss to the Bobcats on Tuesday.
Smith had been benched for the Knicks’ win over Miami on Thursday after he was fined $50,000 by the NBA for his attempts to untie opponents’ shoelaces.
Smith played 27 and 25 minutes in the Knicks’ next two games, a sign that the benching was over. Mike Woodson told him recently that he wanted him to "be more of a pro" and then he was benched on Tuesday. That makes you wonder if something happened with Smith between the end of Monday’s game and the beginning of Tuesday’s.
Either way, the Knicks couldn’t get much going on offense on the second game of a back-to-back without Smith. Their five-game win streak was snapped with the loss.
Andrea Bargnani was a non-factor (eight points in 22 minutes), Iman Shumpert was quiet (five points in 33 minutes) and Carmelo Anthony had a rough night from the floor (20 points on 9-for-22 shooting).
Al’s night: The Knicks' defense was a key to their success during the five-game winning streak. But they didn’t have it going Tuesday. Al Jefferson torched the Knicks for a season-high 35 points. Tyson Chandler, back in the lineup after a four-game absence due to bronchitis, couldn’t provide much resistance for Jefferson, who hit 14 of 20 shots. The Knicks were outscored by seven points in Chandler’s 16 minutes on the floor.
Bronx product Kemba Walker had 20 of his 25 points in the second half and added five assists and seven rebounds.
Charlotte shot 51 percent from the floor and 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Why no J.R.? Initially, it looked like the Knicks might not need Smith. His replacement, Tim Hardaway Jr., hit his first four shots and came out hot. But Hardaway Jr. cooled off, finishing 4-for-10 with 12 points. Amar'e Stoudemire had a strong game off the bench, pouring in 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Stoudemire had a strong dunk at the end of the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to spark the Knicks.
What’s next: The Knicks will take on the Pacers on Thursday in Indiana.
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