New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith is a handful, the sort of player who can make eight 3-pointers in a game and then immediately come back the next week and miss all but one of his shots, make ill-advised decisions in big moments, and get in a screaming match with his coach. He's also one of the more naturally talented shooting guards in the league, which makes his presence tolerable in the midst of his worst stretches. He always holds the potential to do something magical.
On Wednesday night, Smith was infuriating, stupendous and hilarious all at once. With seven seconds remaining and the score tied 98-98 in the Knicks' road game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Smith intercepted a pass from rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and ruined a 2-on-1 fast break by dribbling the ball into the corner. The Knicks called a timeout, and Mike Woodson's out-of-bounds play gave the ball to Smith near the top of the key. He dribbled left, stepped back and hit an off-balance jumper over Kidd-Gilchrist to give New York the win at the buzzer.
As if to emphasize the J.R. Smith-ness of the whole situation, he celebrated by initially standing perfectly still and making a goofy-tough face as teammates mobbed him. To top off the stellar shot, Smith did a short Victor Cruz-esque salsa dance for what appeared to be his own enjoyment.
It is possible we will never see a play that defines J.R. Smith as well as this one. He made a questionable decision to begin the sequence, rendered it moot by hitting a jumper and then basked in his momentary stardom. The entire experience of watching him was shoved into seven seconds of play.
I can't wait to see how he follows it up in Thursday night's contest against the Miami Heat. Don't be surprised if he shoots 3-of-12 for the better part of the game and dominates the final minutes. When it comes to J.R. Smith, expect the extremes.