People always seek to destroy that which is beautiful.
You may have noticed this if you stopped by Twitter on Sunday afternoon. The New York Knicks' 2013-14 season had already burned down to the very foundation that afternoon in Miami. But amid the cinders rose shooting guard J.R. Smith, like a phoenix with an inner-ear infection, soaring to the heavens one moment and crashing through the walls of basketball decorum the next.
J.R. set an NBA record with 22 three-point attempts and a Knicks record with 10 made threes in the game. Toney Douglas may have won the game -- and he might advance further in the playoffs this spring than J.R. ever will in his career -- but J.R. made one more three than Toney did that one time so he is the champion!
There were some, however, who declared J.R.'s remorseless late-game chucking to be symptomatic of everything that has gone wrong with this team on the season. Puh-lease! We're talking about a game where the Knick's defense frequently denied the very existence of two-time MVP LeBron James. It wouldn't even be fair to say that they didn't cover him -- they essentially acted as if, "Hey, if I pretend this guy isn't there, and he scores, it doesn't count."
The points did count, though. All 32 of them. So forgive me if I didn't wring my hands over J.R.'s shot selection on an afternoon where Carmelo Anthony basically lacked the use of his right arm. Forgive me if I preferred his 22 threes over whatever genius sets Mike Woodson would have drawn up in their place:
Melo, you can't lift your right arm? Great...then they'll never expect a fadeaway 20-footer!
Look, J.R. is who he is: A low-IQ player who just so happens to be coached at the moment by a guy who seemingly learned about basketball by picking up a Khrushchev-era Soviet sports manual and then walking it through Google Translate. But there are only four games left in this season, and I'd like to enjoy them.
So I say let's turn into the skid. The Knicks should ride J.R. to every possible three-point record before the season is out. It won't be easy. We will need to totally rework the starting five in order to get JR the maximum number of shots. Melo has to go. Hell, a responsible coach would have sat him long ago, anyway. We need a frontcourt consisting of three guys who will do nothing but set screens, rebound, and kick the ball out to J.R.
- Center: Tyson Chandler
- Power forward: Cole Aldrich
- Small forward: Herb Williams (He'll do what he's told.)
And, of course, Pablo Prigioni at the point. It could only be Pablo.
So what records will J.R. be shooting for in these last four games?
1. Most made three-pointers in a game: (12 - Kobe Bryant, Donyell Marshall)
Melo took Kobe's MSG record in January, so it's only fitting that J.R. get in on the action as well. And as for Donyell Marshall...tough luck, guy.
2. Most made three-pointers in a quarter: (8 - Michael Redd, Joe Johnson)
I don't much care for Joe Johnson...
3: Most made three-pointers in a half: (10 - Chandler Parsons)
...ditto Chandler Parsons
Those records should be relatively easy with this new lineup. J.R. is, after all, a pretty damn good three-point shooter. He is currently shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc: much higher than his 2012-13 mark of 35.6 percent and well above the NBA average. (Check out who ranks second in the league in 3P% this year, by the way.)
If we really want a challenge, let's shoot for some franchise single-season records:
1. Knicks single-season record for three-point field goals: (217 - John Starks, 1994-95)
J.R. has 176 made threes with only four games left to go...so all he has to do is repeat Sunday's single-game team-record performance (10 made threes) four more times. But also make two more in there somewhere. No biggie.
2. Knicks single-season record for three-point field goal attempts: (611 - Starks, 1994-95)
Now it starts to get tricky. J.R. has only 450 three-point attempts this season (stupid five-game weed suspension!) To pass Starks, he would need to attempt 40.5 threes in his next four games.
Now, that may seem like a lot of threes, at first blush...especially considering the fact that J.R. just set the record all-time with 22 attempts. But what is a three-point attempt, when you really think about it? It's just a field-goal attempt...from a certain area of the floor. And it's a pretty big-ass area.
The all-time record for field-goal attempts in a regulation game is 46, set by Bryant in his legendary 81-point performance. So all we're really asking J.R. to do is shoot five fewer shots than Kobe did, but from further away...for four straight games.
And do you really think J.R. is going to refuse our request to shoot 41 threes per game? Hell no. Dude is a team player.
3. Knicks single-season record for three-point field goal percentage: (47.6% - Steve Novak, 2011-12)
J.R. would have to hit his next 74 consecutive threes to get this record.
...in other words, I'm cautiously optimistic.
I still hold out hope that Phil Jackson will take J.R. Smith on a peyote-fueled dune buggy vision quest in the summer, and that the shooting guard returns a changed player. Hell, I'd settle with getting him an actual coach. Until then, however, we must let Earl be Earl. It's all we have left.