Report: Rift Between J.R. Smith & Mike Woodson Leads To Fourth-Quarter Benching

On Friday night, in Boston, Knicks guard J.R. Smith attempted just a single shot in 27 minutes of action. On Saturday night, with Atlanta at MSG, he was conspicuously absent when the Knicks held on down the stretch — behind Carmelo Anthony‘s 15 fourth-quarter points — to defeat the Hawks, 111-106. Now comes word there’s a growing fissure between Smith and coach Mike Woodson.

The New York Daily News‘ Frank Isola reports:

According to a team source, Woodson admonished Smith for poor shot selection during the Bulls game and then became upset over something Smith said on the bench. Woodson waited until after the game to express his disappointment with Smith’s attitude and reminded the volatile shooting guard that he’s been his strongest advocate for the past two seasons.

“Mike said that after all I’ve done for you I can’t have you talking back to me like that,” the source claimed. The same source added that Smith made a lewd comment that angered Woodson.

During Thursday’s practice, Woodson used the game film from the win over the Bulls to demonstrate moments when Smith forced shots when he could have passed. Smith’s response to Woodson’s coaching lesson was to attempt one shot in 27 minutes against the Boston Celtics.

Saturday night, Smith scored two points, making just one shot on eight attempts in 24 minutes, and appeared to be benched in the fourth quarter of a 111-106 win over the Hawks at the Garden.

Isola went on to note that Smith had been averaging 11.6 shots per contest entering Friday’s Boston game. J.R. was just 1-for-8 from the floor against the Hawks on Saturday night, and appeared forlorn on the bench even as the Knicks were taking a double-digit lead over Atlanta.

At one point, with Smith’s sullen countenance juxtaposing his relived-looking teammates, Knicks reserve guard Pablo Prigioni whsipered some words to Smith on the bench, which seemed — to this viewer, at least — like an attempt to improve Smith’s demeanor.

The Knicks, 7-16 after Saturday’s win, have had other drama outside the Smith and Woodson friction. Metta World Peace, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Raymond Felton — out 2-3 weeks with a strained left hamstring — have all been involved in trade talks with the Raptors as part of the Kyle Lowry imbroglio.


Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.