|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2013||[Print without images]|
INDIANAPOLIS -- If you're looking for someone to blame for the New York Knicks' 3-1 series deficit to the Indiana Pacers, J.R. Smith has a suggestion for you: start with him.
"I take the blame for this whole series," Smith said after shooting 7-for-22 in the Knicks' Game 4 loss. "It started off with Game 4 in Boston or Game 5. I haven't been playing myself. I haven't been playing my part. I've been letting my teammates down. I've been letting my coaches down."
I take the blame for this whole series. ... I haven't been playing myself. I haven't been playing my part. I've been letting my teammates down. I've been letting my coaches down.” -- J.R. Smith
Smith has struggled against the Pacers, shooting 18-for-64 in the series (28 percent).
"I have to play more efficient," Smith said. "... It's unacceptable."
Smith has played through an illness that resulted in a 102-degree fever on Saturday. But he did not use that as an excuse for his poor play.
"I don't make excuses," he said. "I got to be able to step up and do what I do."
On Wednesday, coach Mike Woodson said it wasn't the job of Smith or any of the team's other players to shoulder the blame, but rather the coach's.
"Blame it on me," Woodson said Wednesday at practice. "The bottom line is: we're all trying to do the right things to win basketball games, and if we don't have the slippage in the first game to start this series, we're feeling pretty good about ourselves. But right now, our backs are against the wall, and my job is to get us out of this hole."
The Knicks have relied on Smith as their secondary scorer behind Carmelo Anthony all season, but he has been shaky for most of the playoffs.
In nine games, Smith is averaging 14.3 points per game on 33.6 percent shooting. He has made just 15 of his 53 3-point attempts (28 percent).
Smith's struggles seem to have started in Game 5 of the Knicks-Celtics series.
He served a one-game suspension in Game 4 of the series for elbowing Boston's Jason Terry in the face in Game 3.
"I haven't shot the ball well since," Smith said.
Since the suspension, Smith is 29-for-91 (28.5 percent). He has missed 27 of his 37 attempts from beyond the arc.
The Knicks are 2-4 in those games. Prior to the suspension, Smith was averaging 16 points on 43 percent shooting in three games. The Knicks had won all three of those games.
Woodson said the Knicks need Smith to turn things around to help them climb out of their 3-1 hole.
"We're going to need him to score some for us," Woodson said. "He's going to have to put these two games here in Indiana behind us."
Only eight teams in NBA history have won a series after trailing 3-1. Game 5 is Thursday in New York.
Also, Tyson Chandler and Anthony cleared the air before Game 4 over comments Chandler made that suggested the Knicks were playing selfishly on offense.
Chandler clarified his remarks, saying he did not intend to single Anthony out.
"I wasn't directing my comments at Carmelo Anthony. I was directing my comments at the New York Knicks," Chandler said. "Any comment I ever make is for the team. It's not about individuals. If I ever have a problem with Carmelo or anybody else on the team, I'm gonna discuss that [behind] closed doors, in-house. ... We win as a team, we lose as a team. But it can be taken, however, when you throw a word out there."
Anthony said he never felt singled out by Chandler's remarks.
"I didn't take it like he was throwing a jab at me. Our offense has been s---. He has the right to say that," Anthony said. "We haven't been effective on the offensive end. We're not making shots. It is what it is. Me and Tyson talked. Nothing wrong with that."
Ian Begley is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Jared Zwerling was used in this report.