Notebook: Teammates marvel at J.R.'s dunk
January, 4, 2013
By Nick Creegan | ESPNNewYork.com
Head, shoulder, knees and slam!
J.R. Smith literally had the Garden shaking after his law-of-gravity-defying dunk that came off a feed from Pablo Prigioni in the fourth quarter Thursday night. The pass was low from the point guard, but that didn't stop Smith from catching it below his waist and then cocking the ball back to pull off a ridiculous reverse dunk, putting a dagger through the heart of the whole Spurs team.
Steve Novak couldn't believe what his teammate did. "There's no way you're supposed to dunk that pass, but he's gifted, I'll tell you that," he said.
Smith even ended up surprising himself with his athleticism. "Honestly, I thought [Prigioni] didn't see it," he said. "It was kind of late; I jumped so early. I went backdoor and he threw it. It was kind of low, so I didn't think I was going to dunk it to be honest with you."
Amar'e Stoudemire shared his two cents on the dunk as well. He had a "C’mon, man!" reaction. "I was like J.R., really," he said. "You're just going to catch it and dunk it backwards with one hand. Is it that easy? I wish I was 27 again."
TALL CANS: The decision to start Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby together proved to be a smart move by Mike Woodson.
After losing the first quarter in each of their previous six games, Woodson decided to shake up the starting lineup and put Camby in place of Kurt Thomas against the Spurs' bigger front line. Chandler and Camby combined for 20 rebounds and two blocks, providing a major boost to the team's defensive effort in the opening period, which helped them acquire an early lead they never let go of.
It was the first time this season the two former Defensive Players of the Year started at the same time, and Chandler loved having Camby on the court with him.
"He's obviously a defensive presence out there," Chandler said. "He takes up a lot of space, he's able to recover. We have another shot-blocker out there, as well as a rebounder."
Look for these two to share more minutes on the floor together going forward.
WHEN THE RESERVES COME MARCHING IN: Thanks to the efforts of Prigioni, Smith and Novak, Carmelo Anthony didn't have to force up 30 shots to put the Knicks in position to win.
The New York bench held it down.
They combined for 54 points against a red-hot Spurs team -- even outperforming their starting five. Smith led the way with 20 points -- making it his fifth straight game he reached that amount -- and he also chipped in with five rebounds and three assists. He gave credit where credit was due.
"Coaching," he said. "Between Herb [Williams] and Woody, they have been working with me in practice, trying to get my feet ready and get ready to score the ball."
Novak caught fire in the fourth, dropping 3-for-4 from downtown. Overall, he finished the night 5-for-7 from that distance with 15 points. It wasn't all about his offense either. Novakaine picked up two steals, adding to the total of eight the Knicks' bench racked up in the game.
Prigioni played like the seasoned veteran he is, controlling the offensive tempo while on the court and getting good dribble penetration to find the open man. His emphatic alley-oop pass to Smith summed up the kind of night the Knicks' second unit had.