J.R. Smith celebrates after hitting a 3-point shot against the...

J.R. Smith celebrates after hitting a 3-point shot against the Milwaukee Bucks. (March 26, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

MILWAUKEE -- J.R. Smith had one of those games where you kept waiting for interim coach Mike Woodson to pull him. Smith's shot wasn't falling and he made some costly mistakes on defense, including twice fouling Mike Dunleavy, Jr. as he was taking a three-pointer. But Smith rewarded Woodson for his faith.

Smith scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and hit the three-pointer that gave the Knicks a one-point lead with 64 seconds left and they never relinquished it to the Bucks.

"I'm a big believer in J.R," Woodson said after the Knicks improved to 12-4 with him as coach. "I told him that after the game. I'm in his corner and I'm going to do everything I can to see that he's successful for this ballclub."

The play that got Smith the open three was a two-man pick-and-roll with Anthony.

"Definitely the biggest shot I've made since I've been here so far," Smith said.

Novak finishes with flourish

Milwaukee native Steve Novak was 0-for-7 from three and had just two points in the prior two games, but Woodson also had trust in him. Novak delivered in front of family and friends and when the Knicks needed him. He scored seven points in the last 6:23, including a big three and two foul shots that put the Knicks up three with 19.4 seconds left. Novak finished with 10 points.

More asked of Davis

Baron Davis suffered a stiff neck when he fell in Tuesday's loss in Chicago. He already has back, hamstring, knee and calf issues. But he started last night, and had five points, three assists and five turnovers in 19 minutes.

"Somehow in whatever minutes he gets, he's got to be a little bit more productive," Woodson said. "I told him that in terms of getting into things quick, not walking the ball up the floor."


Buzzer beaters

The Knicks will play in the Las Vegas Summer League again this year. It wasn't held last year due to the lockout . . . Woodson said Jared Jeffries, who played his third game since returning from a right knee injury, is limited to 15 minutes a night right now.

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