J.R. Smith needed not only to find his jump shot last night but a flu shot. The soap opera surrounding the embattled Smith took another turn as he missed yesterday’s morning shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 102-degree fever and his status wasn’t certain until one hour before tip-off when he elected to play. He started to show signs of life in the second half, but finished 4-for-12 for nine points in the Knicks’ 82-71 loss to the Pacers. He’s now in a 19-for-69 funk in the past five games. Afterward, a nasal-sounding Smith said it was a virus and he started feeling chills Friday night, waking up in the middle of the night “freezing.’’ When Smith walked into the arena last night, Mike Woodson called him “a game-time decision.’’ Smith took 15 minutes of warm-ups, watched closely by Knicks medical director Lisa Callahan. He looked drawn but made most of his jumpers. He headed to the locker room and told assistant coach Jim Todd he was ready to go, huddling in the trainer’s room with a computer to go over the game plan. “I was kind of winded early,’’ Smith said. “Woody did a great job of pacing my minutes.” The illness drama allowed fans to assume the worst. The image of the Sixth Man Award winner as an indulger in nightlife has not faded. Woodson and Carmelo Anthony portrayed a player who appears mentally fragile. “I like to think J.R. is a tough kid,’’ Woodson said. “You got to have thick skin. Playing in New York, you got to have thick skin. If he’s going to get through it and help us, he’s got to block out things and start playing J.R. basketball.
Fever not all that ails J.R.
New York Post | May 12