Late heroics from J.R. Smith push Knicks past Suns

Heading into Wednesday’s contest against the Phoenix Suns, the depleted New York Knicks had every right to be nervous. Yet they withstood the adversity that sprang from their Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and then some.

No Carmelo Anthony? No Raymond Felton? No problem.

Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith more than picked up the slack in leading the Knicks to a heart-stopping 99-97 victory over the Suns. The pair combined for 50 points to go along with 14 apiece from Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland, just enough to propel New York to a division-leading 21-8.

Jared Dudley scored 36 for the Suns, who erased a 14-point third quarter deficit and took a potentially decisive lead when Dudley drained a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left.

Smith, however, had other plans. With the clock winding down, the Knicks’ mercurial sixth man used a series of spins and jukes to get himself just enough real estate to hit a borderline miraculous fadeaway jumper from near the free-throw line to tie the game at 97.

After Sebastian Telfair stepped out of bounds on the Suns’ ensuing possession, the Knicks found themselves with the ball and a single second to try to win the game in regulation. Improbably, Kidd’s pass found none other than Smith making a beeline for the baseline. Smith caught the ball, planted his feet for a fraction of a second in front of Sun logo near the sideline and drained the game-winner as the final horn sounded, leaving the Knicks with little to do but marvel at their teammate’s astounding play.

“I don’t know whatever words you want to use but he loves that moment,” said Kidd, reports the Associated Press. “I’m trying to figure out if that last shot was tougher than the one before that he took.”

The Knicks will now continue their West-Coast swing with a trip to Sacramento on Friday evening. Tip-off is set for 10:00 p.m. ET.

Categories: Basketball