After two straight Vince Carter 3-pointers gave the Dallas Mavericks a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter of Monday night's matchup at Madison Square Garden, Knicks center Tyson Chandler was called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to Dallas with a chance to increase the advantage. As the Knicks backtracked on defense, Smith was clearly captured by MSG Network's cameras reaching up, grabbing a hold of Carter's headband with his right hand and yanking it down over Carter's left ear.
Carter appeared to laugh it off, give Smith a quick bump, and then proceed to try to get the headband properly repositioned on the ensuing offensive possession, which ended with a missed 3-pointer by Dirk Nowitzki. Carter would get the last laugh, though, coming up with a key defensive stop on Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks' final possession. After Carter stayed down on Anthony's pump fake, Anthony shoveled the ball to Smith in hopes of a bailout score; Smith tried unsuccessfully to draw a foul on Mavericks guard Monta Ellis and hoisted up a shot that didn't find the bottom of the net, giving the ball back to Dallas and setting the stage for Dirk's friendly-roll game-winner. Smith went 1 for 6 from the floor after pulling down Carter's headband. (Instant karma's gonna get you.)
After the Knicks' 110-108 loss, J.R. naturally denied having done something in full view of multiple television cameras that had been broadcast to millions of viewers. From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
After the game — a 110-108 Dallas win — Smith denied what replays clearly revealed.
"No, your eyes were playing tricks on you," he said with a laugh, repeating the refrain a questioner used. "You're reaching for that one. I [already] got fined once for that s---."
Well, kind of. In case you'd forgotten — and who could blame you, given the sheer deluge of nonsense this Knicks season has provided — Smith was fined $50,000 last month for "recurring instances of unsportsmanlike conduct" after untying the shoelaces of Dwight Howard and Shawn Marion during games, and then trying to do it to Greg Monroe at a game attended by top NBA disciplinarian Rod Thorn, who had reportedly told Smith to cut it out lest he face punishment.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson called Smith's actions unprofessional, and benched him during a nationally televised win over the Miami Heat. Smith apologized, returned to the fold, and then got benched again a couple of days later for reasons remaining unclear. He has played 35 minutes per game over 18 outings since, averaging 15.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on 43.5 percent shooting from the field and a 41.2 percent mark from 3-point land. Whether he'll face any punishment stemming from this "incident," whether on the team or league level, remains to be seen; whether it would matter in the slightest remains unclear, too.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, feel free to check it out elsewhere, thanks to Ben Golliver of The Point Forward.
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