J.R. Smith has been one of the key factors in the Knicks’ 4-0 start with not just his scoring, but his overall play off the bench.
Smith admitted he’s a little surprised at the Knicks’ record and how well they’re playing.
“Yes and no,” Smith said after practice Saturday. “I say yes because of how old our team is and the injuries to Iman [Shumpert] and [Amar’e Stoudemire].
“I say no because of the camaraderie we have, how much we talk and communicate one through 15, all of our guys. We all seem to be on the same on the page, as well as the coaching staff too.”
The Knicks are playing strong defense, allowing 87.5 points in the four games. In the second half, they’ve outscored their opponents 195-157. No team has scored more than 40 points against the Knicks after halftime.
“That’s one of the things we’ve emphasized, coming out in that third quarter, getting a good stretch, getting loose and making sure we come out in attack mode,” Smith said.
“Last year we were a team that if you get the lead in the third quarter a team would pretty much put us away. We’re just trying to go out there and play with as much enthusiasm as we can in the second half.”
The Knicks are not practicing today. They open a three-game road trip Tuesday in Orlando. If the Knicks win they will match their second-best start. They were 5-0 in 1969-70 when the won their first NBA championship.