Just when you thought J.R. Smith had transformed into a kinder, gentler and—most importantly—matured version of himself, this happened.
JR Smith ejected for a flagrant-2, after elbowing Jason Terry in the face. Knicks lead 78-59 w/7:06.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) April 27, 2013
Doc Rivers saves a Jason Terry-JR Smith dust-up by bearhugging Terry. Some of the best defense C’s have played all game.— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) April 27, 2013
Never one to back down, JET jumped back up looking ready to return the favor. Perhaps the frustration of an impending loss and 3-0 series deficit added some insult to injury. This certainly wasn't the kind of first round Terry had in mind when he signed with the Boston Celtics last summer.
As for Smith, well, this is hardly the first time he's had us scratching our heads.
The especially unnecessary cheap shot was an unmistakable message to a guy who's done his fair share of talking. It was also a display of sheer bravado from a guy who could probably afford to miss a game should that ultimately be the case.
That elbow might cost JR Smith a game.— chris palmer (@ESPNChrisPalmer) April 27, 2013
Not exactly an apocalyptic scenario for a team on the verge of sweeping the Celtics.
Nevertheless, Smith's most recent indiscretion will have at least some impact on an image that had begun rehabilitating itself in earnest. You can't help be reminded of the brash young player who had George Karl and the Denver Nuggets at wits end about what to do with such an unpredictable talent.
This was J.R. Smith at his finest and worst alike.
A vintage JR Smith moment.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) April 27, 2013
Smith finished the game with 15 points in over 24 minutes of action, turning in his third solid performance of the series after putting up 15 and 19 points in Games 1 and 2 respectively. While the Knicks might be able to live without Smith for a game, he's become an integral part of coach Mike Woodson's scoring attack and a steady second option for Carmelo Anthony.
Given his importance to any serious title push, you can rest assured Woodson will have some words with his Sixth Man of the Year about keeping his head on his shoulders from here on out.