Woodson urges Smith to keep composure
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mike Woodson huddled with J.R. Smith after Wednesday's workout, talking to his emotional sixth man about the importance of being professional and his importance to the team.
Woodson said he's trying to help Smith become a better professional. But Woodson also said Smith, who was ejected with 10 seconds left in Tuesday's loss in Indiana, has to help the shorthanded Knicks by not losing his cool and producing more consistently.
"It goes both ways," Woodson said after preparing for Thursday night's game against the Magic. "I'm just not giving it. I have to take something, too. They have to be willing to give back, too. I can't have him on a roller coaster in terms of his play.
"He's a kid that's talented, that can score the basketball coming off the bench and can defend. He's shown signs of that. That's what I expect. He can't tease me one game and not give it to me the next game."
Smith has been given a bigger role as the Knicks chase a playoff spot without Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. But he has been erratic, averaging 10.4 points and shooting 37.9 percent for the Knicks, who are one game ahead of Milwaukee for the last playoff spot in the East with 12 games to play.
He was 2-for-10 with five points in Friday's loss in Atlanta. The next night, Smith scored 20 in a win over the Cavaliers. He shot 3-for-11 and had 11 points against the Pacers when Smith and the Knicks melted down in the fourth quarter.
They blew a 17-point lead and Smith was thrown out for throwing Leandro Barbosa to the ground, prompting the conference with Woodson Wednesday.
The NBA downgraded Smith's Flagrant Two foul to a Flagrant One and will not suspend him. After watching the replay, Woodson said he thought it should have been a double foul. Smith walks a fine line because of how passionate he can be. He said it's a blessing and a curse.
"I think I burn a lot of energy on getting a little too hyped," said Smith, who has been suspended multiple times in his NBA career. "I think I can use that energy on the other end of the court. So I try not to get too pumped up.
"That's one of the biggest things [Woodson] emphasizes when we were talking, just to keep my composure. No matter what, if we're winning or losing, just keep my composure and stay positive."
With Stoudemire and Lin sidelined, Smith is arguably the Knicks' second-best scorer behind Carmelo Anthony. Woodson likes to play Smith late in games and probably will continue. But Woodson blamed himself for not going back to Landry Fields, who had 15 points in 23 minutes against Indiana.
"Who I probably should have played more is Landry," Woodson said. "I smacked myself because he was playing great. It's like I forgot about him. That's something I've got to get better at.
"I've seen enough of him play in past years that it's hard to take [him out]," Woodson said of Smith. "He's got to really be playing bad because he makes big shots and he's not scared to take them. Now that we got him playing defense, that kind of fits into who I am as a coach."