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Down its closer in Carmelo Anthony late in Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, the New York Knicks turned to J.R. Smith.
He made a very worthy replacement.
Smith nailed a 20-foot fadeaway jump shot over top of Bobcats' rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to lift the Knicks to a 100-98 victory in dramatic fashion at Time Warner Cable Arena.
After its defeat to New York, Charlotte has dropped five games in a row, including losses to Oklahoma City (114-69), Atlanta (94-91), Philadelphia (104-98) and Portland (118-112).
"I was just praying he was going to miss to tell you the truth," said Bobcats guard Kemba Walker of Smith's game winner. "That's the way it goes sometimes. J.R. is a shot maker. It was a tough shot. Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist) played it well. (Smith) had to get it over (Kidd-Gilchrist). It was a high shot. That's what you've got to do. That's what J.R. does."
The Knicks were without Anthony after he lacerated his left middle finger while diving for a ball with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter. Anthony did not return, and he required five stitches to close the cut.
Anthony said he is unsure if he will play in the Knicks next game against the NBA champion Miami Heat on Thursday.
"Right now, it's numb, so I don't know," Anthony said. "I'm going to take some time off from diving in the stands."
Despite scoring 20 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shots, Anthony struggled in the second half, making just one of his 11 attempts in the half.
Anthony also struggled from behind the 3-point line. After going 4-for-4 in the first half, Anthony went 0-for-3 in the second half behind the arc.
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap credit a trio of defenders to Anthony's poor offensive output in the second half.
"I would say that Jeff Taylor, Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson broke his rhythm," Dunlap said. "It was something that we had a goal of not to let him get his numbers. He got his numbers in the first half, but I just think we did a better job with him in the second half."
Charlotte had several opportunities late to close out its eighth win of the season, but mistakes cost the Bobcats late, including a five-second call on an attempted in-bounds play, as well as a walk by Ben Gordon with 39.8 seconds left.
A third turnover â€” this time a bad pass by Kidd-Gilchrist after a missed Knicks' shot with 7.9 seconds left â€” helped New York set up Smith's game-winning shot after a timeout.
Jason Kidd, who came off of the bench for New York due to issues with back spasms, in-bounded the ball to Smith at the top of the key.
Cutting to the left side of the court, Smith faded away for his clinching shot over top of Kidd-Gilchrist â€” sending the fans in attendance into a frenzied mix of boos and cheers.
Smith overcame a 6-for-16 shooting night, including 1-for-9 from 3-point territory, to make his stunning shot.
"My teammates told me to keep shooting," Smith said. "As frustrating as it is to miss shots, keep shooting and missing, they just told me to keep going. That's what my job is on this team. That's what I'm going to keep doing."
Back for his second game after a foot injury sidelined him for a month, Gerald Henderson came off the bench to give the Bobcats a much-needed boost, scoring 18 points in 25 minutes.
Henderson said Wednesday's loss was difficult.
"It's tough because it came down to that last shot," Henderson said. "It really shouldn't have. We need to be better at the end of games. Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist) took that last shot kind of tough, but he played great defense trying to stay with him. We just need to continue to improve."
Charlotte is at Milwaukee (8-9) on Friday â€” a team the Bobcats beat 102-98 on Nov. 19 â€” before returning home Saturday to face the San Antonio Spurs (15-4) for the first time this season.
Despite his team's current five-game skid, Dunlap said he saw positive signs Wednesday that gives him hope for his team's future.
"We are a good team," he said. "There is a revelation here through this adversity. Those guys in the locker room know we are going to be good. Unfortunately, we just aren't getting the result right now, but we are playing everybody tough. As I told them, there is no reason to be down in the mouth about this thing. It doesn't feel good, but I still believe we are just going to be pushing forward and be able to perform in more situations that we get with these young guys."View more articles in: