Knicks coach Derek Fisher understands J.R. Smith's frustration. But that doesn't mean he is going to ask any less of him.
Smith, like all the other Knicks players, is being asked to trust the process, to put his faith in Fisher and president Phil Jackson's triangle offense and make changes in their game for the benefit of the team.
"For J.R., like many players, this is difficult to do,'' Fisher said after the team's practice Thursday. "Last night, we talked about how we're not just installing new software to the computer. We're building a whole new computer from scratch, and that's not easy to do.''
After scoring only five points in 23 minutes in a preseason win over Washington on Wednesday night, Smith said it had been difficult to rein in his shoot-first mentality and adjust to the team-first principles of the triangle.
"Being the type of player I've been, it's a struggle,'' Smith said. "I'm not going to lie.''
Smith, who is averaging 8.5 points and shooting 39 percent in six preseason games, said that when he talked to Fisher about his struggles, the coach showed him his championship rings (he has five).
"He just told me -- look at the rings they have,'' Smith said. "It's worked. I want one so bad, I'll do whatever it takes. If it takes me sacrificing my scoring, that's what it takes.''
Fisher said he has talked to all the players, not just Smith, about what it took to get his rings.
"It's not really looking at the rings per se, but just looking at how people that have been successful at anything they've done, they have a way of going about doing it,'' Fisher said. "There's consistency to their habits. There's a particular kind of culture involved. There's a commitment to others and a service to others and making everyone else better and putting the group first.''
Just about any Knicks fan can tell you that consistency and service to others aren't exactly the buzzwords one would associate with Smith's game or off-the-court behavior since his arrival here three seasons ago. Still, Smith's teammates are confident he can make the transition.
"It's going to work itself out,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "It's easy to feel like you're kind of left out of what's going on, but everybody is going through the same thing. He'll be all right. It's preseason. We need him. He knows we need him. We know we need him. He's a big part of what we're trying to do.''
Notes & quotes: Andrea Bargnani did not practice Thursday, meaning that he more than likely will miss his seventh straight game Friday night against the Raptors in Montreal, the Knicks' preseason finale . . . Fisher said he was not surprised to see 33-year-old Samuel Dalembert grab five rebounds and block three shots in Wednesday night's preseason game. Said Fisher, "That's what he's here to do. I think Sam enjoys being that, enjoys playing for his team. That's what rim protectors are. They're kind of the ultimate team guys, not overly concerned with how much touches and other things are happening.''