INDIANAPOLIS -- J.R. Smith returned from his benching with mixed results and a mixed tone.
Although Smith scored 12 points in 28 minutes, the majority of his production and playing time came after halftime, when the Knicks faced a 63-48 hole. The enigmatic, troubled guard had four points at the break in New York’s 117-89 blowout defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.
Smith’s benching after a reported run-in with coach Mike Woodson lasted one game. On Thursday, in a down Knicks locker room, Smith could only partially commit to understanding why he sat due to a coach’s decision on Tuesday in Charlotte.
"Yes and no," he said. "I think it's a combination of some things, but we've got to work that out within the team, and we'll go from there."
After Woodson spoke earlier in the week about Smith needing to be responsible and accountable for his actions, the ninth-year guard did place a burden on his own shoulders.
"I’ve got to keep working to make sure I do play," Smith said. "As long as I’m playing, I’m satisfied."
Chandler's cough: Seen hacking into a towel on the bench and having returned to the locker room briefly at one point in the first half, Tyson Chandler responded to concerns after the game that his illness might be hanging around.
"I’m all right. I’m all right," Chandler said.
What seemed to bother Chandler more were the poses struck by Lance Stephenson, who burned the Knicks for a career-high 28 points and let everyone know just how much he was enjoying himself.
"It’s our job to keep him from doing all that crap," Chandler said.
Credit due: From Woodson on down, the Knicks freely acknowledged that the Pacers, at 31-7 and 20-1 at home, are simply a team on another level.
"It’s disappointing the way we lost, losing by that much," Raymond Felton said. "By their record, that’s a good team. Those guys just started hitting shots, getting hot in their building. That’s a good team right there."
Carmelo Anthony admired how Indiana "shot extremely well," finishing at 50 percent for the game. "They played great tonight," Anthony said. "There’s no way I believe they’re 30 points better than we are. I won’t accept that."