Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony says he’s not worried that teammate J.R. Smith is partying too much.
Amid a massive slump in the last four playoff games, Smith has reportedly been out clubbing late night with singer Rihanna at Greenhouse in SoHo on Tuesday and at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club on Saturday.
“I don’t want to speak on that,” Anthony said Thursday after practice. “To me he’s focused now. He’s here with us. When he’s here he’s here. Whatever he’s doing in his spare time, he does in his spare time.”
In his last four games since being suspended in Game 4 against the Celtics, Smith is shooting 15-for-57 (26 percent) and 7-for-24 from the arc (29 percent) while averaging 13 points. In the Knicks’ 105-79 rout in Game 2 on Tuesday, Smith shot 3-for-15 for eight points, including 1-for-7 from the arc.
In the first three games against Boston, Smith averaged 16.3 points on 43 percent shooting.
“He says he’s in a little slump now, but I don’t really believe in slumps,” Anthony said. “If you tell yourself you’re in a slump then you will be in a slump.”
He added: “My thing to J.R. is I want him to remain positive regardless of what’s going on off the court, what ‘s being said about him,” Anthony said.
Smith ducked out of practice without speaking to the media, Anthony said he doesn’t believe in slumps and isn’t overly concerned about Smith’s recent performance.
“I don’t think he will be in a so-called slump for much longer,” Anthony said. “He’s in here working. The only way you’re going to get out of a so-called slump is put more work in and he’s been doing that so we just need him to be J.R. back out there, playing basketball, having fun, feeling positive on the court.”
Woodson said Wednesday on the radio that he might “pull” Smith if he felt the “need,” but seemed to back off those comments Thursday.
“Shooters go through it and he’s just gotta think every time he pulls up to shoot a shot or he goes to the rim, that he’s going to make the shot,” Woodson said. “You can’t back away from it. We’ve all gone through it as players throughout our careers.
“I got faith and I believe in J.R. so eventually he’ll break loose and when he does he’ll be back to J.R. again and that’s going to help us even more I think.”
After struggling through a a 4-for-11 shooting performance for 10 points in the first half of Game 2, Anthony seemed to adjust his game by taking the ball to the basket on several plays instead of settling for jumpers.
Asked if Smith needed to do something similar, Anthony said he wasn’t in favor of Smith changing his game.
“”We need J.R. to just be aggressive,” Anthony said. “We want him to play his game, whatever that may be, whether it’s shooting jump shots, driving to the basket, we want him to play his game.
“I don’t want him to alter his game for anything. We want him to continue the same things he’s been doing all season long…Whatever it is, remain positive throughout this whole process becasue it’s not going to happen in one day.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.