December 23, 2010
First, John Wall(notes) did it during a scrimmage. Then, Nick Young(notes) did it during a game. Then, Blake Griffin(notes) did it during a game while being a freakin' monster. And now, J.R. Smith(notes) has done it while wearing a beautiful baby blue uniform. I swear, the variations on this 360 layup thing are pretty much endless. Super customizable, just like this weather plasmoid.
EDITOR'S NOTE: BDL reader apachechief90, who has a memory like a steel trap, reminds us that J.R. was, in fact, already ON Team 360-Degree Layup, courtesy of this slick '08 alley-oop. Mil gracias for the reminder.
It was the prettiest play on a pretty good night for Smith, who finished with 22 points (albeit on 18 shots), seven rebounds and four assists to pace a Denver Nuggets attack that was without Carmelo Anthony(notes), who missed the game against the San Antonio Spurs due to a death in the family.
Fluid, fantastic plays like this make J.R. a favorite among NBA diehards — there's just too much talent, athleticism and smirking swagger to his game not to love what he can do on the court. When he's got it cooking, he's one of the league's most invigorating players to watch. Of course, sometimes J.R. gets a little too deep in love with that talent, athleticism and swagger, and it dredges up his dicey career-long relationship with shot-selection discretion.
Case in point: With the Nuggets holding onto a 101-99 lead over the Spurs with 3:31 left in a nip-and-tuck fourth quarter, Smith decided to hoist a contested, early-in-the-shot-clock 27-footer that was probably the worst possible offensive play Denver could have produced at that point (save, of course, for Chris Andersen(notes) launching a three-quarter-court hook like he was shooting for the Sudan).
If J.R. works for something better there — a closer attempt for himself, an open look for a teammate, a trip to the line, anything — the Nuggets might get up by two possessions, keep the pressure on the Spurs with three minutes to go and stand a chance of putting just the fourth L of the year on San Antonio. Instead, the wild shot seemed to suck the life out of Denver, leading to San Antonio scoring the next nine points en route to a 109-103 victory. In a back-and-forth game, the Nuggets blinked first, thanks to J.R.'s itchy trigger-finger.
Guy sure can spin, though.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to enjoy J.R.'s twirl toward freedom courtesy of m0l0k0vell0cet.