Melo: We need everything out of J.R.

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
6:00
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J.R. Smith needs another initial in his name for the playoffs. X seems appropriate.

Because he's the ultimate X factor for the Knicks in their first-round series against Miami.

"We need him focused," Carmelo Anthony said earlier this week.

If the Knicks get "Good J.R.," they could have a major advantage in bench play over the Heat.

But if New York gets "Bad J.R.", that advantage -- one of its biggest coming into the series -- could be nullified.

"We need everything out of J.R.," said Anthony, who teamed with Smith for 4 1/2 seasons in Denver. "…. We all know what he can do offensively -- especially when he's shooting the ball the the way he can shoot the basketball.

"We just just need his aggressiveness," Anthony added. " We need him locked in."

Smith has had an eventful 35-game tenure in New York so far. Signed after he played a stint in the Chinese Basketball Association during the lockout, Smith has averaged 12.5 points in 26.7 minutes for the Knicks.

At times, he's been erratic. At times, he's been electric.

After a strong Knicks debut in a win over Dallas on Feb. 19, Smith shot just 36 percent from the floor in the next 10 games.

But he scored in double figures in all but one of the Knicks' 13 games in April -- the highlight being his seven three-pointers in the first half against Boston on April 17.

Smith may be in his final days as a Knick.

The New Jersey native has a player option for next season. Two league sources with knowledge of Smith's situation say he will likely turn down the $2.5 million option and test free-agency this summer, where he's expected to command a much higher salary.

But that's an issue for the offseason.

Right now, the Knicks, as Anthony said, need everything out of Smith. In other words, they need their X-factor on his 'A' game.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.2 3.1 1.0 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 6.6
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.7
StealsS. Larkin 1.2
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3