Smith criticises the team’s effort as frustration continues to grow.
New York Knicks star J.R. Smith has questioned “the heart” of his team after they suffered another defeat on Saturday night which pushes them further away from the playoffs.
The Knicks went down to a 23-point loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, which leaves them at 21-38 for the season and six games adrift of the Atlanta Hawks who occupy the eighth and final playoff spot.
Smith was clearly frustrated with various aspects of his team’s performance, as the hosts were never really in the game as they continue to struggle through the schedule down the final stretch of the regular season.
“It’s not a mental thing, it’s a heart thing,” Smith said, according to ESPN.
“Guys get open shots, [they’re] walking through the lane, running around, slapping high-fives, laughing, joking. When you’re supposed to be a team trying to make the playoffs, you ain’t gonna win. It ain’t gonna happen like that. You gotta play with effort, play with heart. I mean, I’m not condoning knocking somebody down and hurting nobody. But we gotta do something. We gotta stick up for ourselves. We’re just letting people do what they want to do.”
New York are now a season-high 16 games under .500, and Smith believes it is not enough to just talk up their chances, they must deliver on the court even though time is quickly running out for them to secure a place in the post-season.
Carmelo Anthony distanced himself from accusing the players of lacking the heart to make a run, and instead attributed the Knicks’ struggles to a lack of consistency that they have suffered from all season long.
Performances such as these leave the Knicks looking in a bad state which inevitably reflect on Anthony’s decision this summer, as he must decide whether or not to sign a long-term deal with the franchise after hitting free agency.
While he did describe the last two games as “embarrassing”, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be willing to help the team rebuild or look for a new opportunity elsewhere, as they look more and more unlikely to be playing playoff basketball this year.