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Friday, December 28, 2012
By the Knumbers: Smith's comfort zone

By Mark Simon

What the shot chart shows
The game-ending shot that J.R. Smith hit to beat the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday was (believe it or not), the kind of shot the Knicks would seem to want from Smith.

As the shot chart above shows, Smith is 15-for-26 on mid-range baseline (and slightly extended out) jumpers from the left side this season.

Shots from that area have become more of a part of Smith's game than they were last season. Last year, he only took 11 shots from that location, making four of them. Last season, that was a location from which Smith would shoot about once every three games. Now, he's taking about one per game from there.

3 stats of note on the Felton injury
A few observations to go with what Jared Zwerling wrote about Felton’s absence on Thursday:

1. One of the things that may happen as a result of Felton’s injury is that the Knicks may have to come up with some other scoring options other than Anthony and Smith in the fourth quarter of close games.

Jason Kidd has thrived in the role of secondary option in those instances. He’s 7-for-14 and 5-for-9 from 3-point range (including the game-winning four-point play against the Brooklyn Nets) in the fourth quarter or overtime when the score has been within five points one way or the other.

Felton may be well-served to watch Kidd’s decision-making. Felton is 8-for-35 on shots in that same timeframe.

2. Kidd and Pablo Prigioni may have to play together a little bit more often. This hasn’t necessarily been the best combination so far. In the 89 minutes the pair have played together, the Knicks have been outscored by two points.

3. Increased playing time for Prigioni may be a benefit to Smith.

Smith is shooting 45 percent (and 49 percent from 3-point range) with Prigioni on the court and 37 percent with Felton on the floor. And there has been little difference in how the Knicks have fared (in terms of plus-minus) with either of those two combos.

Inside the buzzer-beater
Smith’s game-winner was his second buzzer-beater of the season. Prior to that, the Knicks hadn’t had a buzzer-beating shot since Steve Francis hit one against the Washington Wizards in 2007. It was the sixth buzzer-beater in the NBA this season, matching the total from all of last season.

The Knicks have nine buzzer-beaters since the start of the 2004-05 season. That’s the second most in the NBA in that span, trailing only the Boston Celtics. The Suns have allowed eight, tied for the second most in that time.

Smith became the first Knicks guard to score at least 27 points without making a 3-pointer since Stephon Marbury (also against the Suns) in 2005.

Jared Dudley scored 36 points in the loss. The last three times a Suns player has scored at least that many against the Knicks, the Suns lost the game. Their last win against the Knicks, with a player scoring 36 or more, came in 1989, when Tom Chambers had 36 in a 132-130 victory.