Smith hits winning shot for Knicks; 'Melo exits early
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - With Carmelo Anthony exiting late in the fourth quarter with a hand injury, New York was without its closer in the final seconds of a tied game.
However, they found one in J.R. Smith, who made huge plays on both sides of the ball.
Smith came up with a pivotal steal and then drained the game-winning bucket as time expired to help the Knicks escape Charlotte with a 100-98 victory over the Bobcats.
Smith finished with 13 points and also had a key block late in the game. Tyson Chandler put forth a monstrous double-double, posting 18 points and 17 rebounds to help pace the Knicks to their fourth straight win.
"It was a total team effort," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson on the team's strong defensive play late. "We got three key steals, a 24-second violation, a five-second count when they were taking the ball out, those were all winning defensive plays coming down the stretch."
Anthony finished with 23 points, but scored just three on 1-of-11 shooting in the second half before leaving. Raymond Felton tallied 17 points and nine assists and in his return after missing four games with back spasms, Jason Kidd totaled seven points, two steals and three blocks.
Charlotte turned the ball over on each of its final five possessions to send the club to its fifth straight loss. Kemba Walker scored a game-high 25 points and had a season-best 11 assists.
"They played some good defense at the end," said Walker. "I thought we got some pretty good shots too, but we made a few mistakes that cost us really. We just got to get better with that kind of stuff."
After a strong third quarter, the Bobcats took a 75-72 advantage into the final period and clung to a thin margin up until the final minute of the game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored two of his 12 points on a layup to put Charlotte ahead 98-92 with 3:50 left, but turnovers plagued them from scoring another basket for the rest of the game.
Felton hit a floater and Anthony scored on a layup to bring the Knicks within two, however, the Knicks' star was forced from the game on ensuing possession after lacerating his finger while trying to save a loose ball off a Smith rejection.
New York retained possession due to a 24-second violation, but was unable to score following three missed shots.
The Bobcats began to get sloppy, as Walker tripped while trying to get to the basket. He was just able to regain possession of the ball before calling timeout, but the Bobcats were called for five-second violation on the inbounds play, giving the ball back to New York.
Felton quickly got in the lane and scored the tying basket but couldn't hit the go-ahead jumper following a Ben Gordon travel. Smith came up with a huge interception on the ensuing play to give the Knicks possession with 3.8 seconds left.
Then, with the clock winding down, he buried the game-winner to silence the Charlotte crowd.
After Anthony scored 10 and Chandler totaled eight points and nine rebounds, Felton capped the first quarter scoring by floating a fadeaway jumper in at the buzzer to give the Knicks a 26-24 lead.
Trailing 33-30 following a Kidd 3-pointer, the Bobcats embarked on a 19-6 run to build a 10-point lead, but back-to-back triples by Ronnie Brewer and Anthony cut the deficit to 49-45 with 3:01 to go in the second quarter.
Anthony then pulled them even after knocking down consecutive jumpers, but a Brendan Haywood layup in the final seconds of the period gave the Bobcats a 53-51 halftime advantage.
New York started the third on 7-0 run to regain the lead, but went ice cold shortly thereafter. The Knicks missed 11 straight shots during an 11-4 spurt by the Bobcats, which was highlighted by a 3-point play by Walker to tie the game at 67.
Smith broke the skid with a jumper for New York and Kidd followed with another triple, but Gerald Henderson's layup gave Charlotte a 75-72 edge after three quarters.
The Knicks have won the last four matchups with the Bobcats and have taken eight of the last 10 meetings ... The Knicks scored 23 points off 14 Bobcats' turnovers ... Henderson scored 18 and Gordon notched 17 points off the bench for Charlotte ... New York will continue a three-game road trip in Miami on Thursday ... The Bobcats finished a three-game homestand 0-3 and will travel to Milwaukee on Friday.