J.R. Smith returns to action and contributes to win.
There were nine games on the NBA schedule on Saturday night, with the New York Knicks continuing their resurgence in 2014 with a fourth consecutive win.
With J.R. Smith kept on the bench by coach Mike Woodson last time out after being fined by the NBA for unsportsmanlike conduct, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year returned to the floor to help the Knicks move past the Philadelphia 76ers.
He scored all of his 11 points in a game-turning second quarter, as Amar’e Stoudemire scored 21 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 as the Knicks moved to 14-22 for the season and on the brink of moving back into playoff contention.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, attack, get back to my old self, play with a chip on my shoulder and it worked,” Smith said, according to ESPN.
“It was very important for me as well as the team to get out there and be successful with scoring the ball and getting my teammates open shots.”
Smith insisted that with basketball effectively being taken away from him, he realised that as a professional he needed to take the opportunity and it now appears as though he is determined to be successful again this year.
Elsewhere, the Toronto Raptors ended the Brooklyn Nets’ five-game winning streak, with DeMar DeRozan scoring 26 points in the 96-80 win.
Paul Pierce responded with 15 points while Alan Anderson had 13, however, Brooklyn appeared to be fatigued after making the trip north and after their double overtime effort over the Miami Heat last time out.
Point guard Deron Williams was missing again, and UK fans face an anxious wait as to whether or not he is able to travel to London next week.
In contrast, the Chicago Bulls were in winning form last night as they made it three straight wins since trading Luol Deng, with Joakim Noah going for 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a 103-97 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
D.J. Augustin had 20 points and 12 assists as Chicago had seven players in double figures in its fifth consecutive victory as they improve to 17-18 for the season and appear to be pushing hard for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
“The trade definitely hurt,” Noah said in his first public comments since the deal. “We’ve got to move on, but I feel confident in this team. We’re working really hard.
“A lot of people say this is a business, and all that, but this game is more than a business to me. I put everything I’ve got into this. Lu was the same way, so it was hard for me to digest. That’s just my perspective. Everybody has a different job. I’m not mad at anybody.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant dropped 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on the Milwaukee Bucks to secure a 101-85 win for the Oklahoma City Thunder, while Dirk Nowitzki enjoyed a high scoring night too with 40 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Elsewhere, the Portland Trail Blazers inflicted an eighth straight loss on the Boston Celtics with LeMarcus Aldridge posting up 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists as his team move to 28-9 and put pressure on the San Antonio Spurs at the top of the Conference.
The Celtics have now fallen to 13-25 after a promising start to the season, but with their road trip concluded, they will now hope for a timely boost with the return of point guard Rajon Rondo in the upcoming weeks.
Brooklyn Nets 80-96 Toronto Raptors
Houston Rockets 114-107 Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns 108-110 Detroit Pistons
New York Knicks 102-92 Philadelphia 76ers
Charlotte Bobcats 97-103 Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks 85-101 Oklahoma City Thunder
New Orleans Pelicans 107-110 Dallas Mavericks
Orlando Magic 94-120 Denver Nuggets
Boston Celtics 104-112 Portland Trail Blazers