Drama over J.R. Smith can work in Wizards' favor

Drama over J.R. Smith can work in Wizards' favor
December 15, 2013, 7:00 pm
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The Wizards may be in a funk, losers of four in a row, but they're still much better off than the New York Knicks as J.R. Smith appears to be clashing with coach Mike Woodson.

He's shooting just 34.2% from the field this season and that still hasn't discouraged him from jacking up jumpers. Bad shots by Smith takes chances away from Carmelo Anthony, which if you're the Wizards is a good thing going into Monday's game at Madison Square Garden (CSN, 7:30 ET).

Woodson apparently told Smith to cool it, and the sometimes hot-headed gunner responded by only attempting one shot in 26 minutes of Friday's 90-86 loss to the Boston Celtics. Then Smith was benched in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 111-106 win vs. the Atlanta Hawks, when he shot 1-for-8.

In his last five outings, Smith is shooting 9-for-36 from the field. 

On top of that, a recent report has linked the Los Angeles Lakers to expressing interest in another Knicks disgruntled guard, Iman Shumpert. The Lakers have their own unlikely bad apple in 7-footer Pau Gasol. It all adds up to lot of distractions and despair. 

Even though the Wizards (9-13) have their own issues with injuries to Nene, Bradley Beal and Al Harrington, they haven't imploded like this. And they've not been beaten by 41 points -- on their home floor -- like the Knicks. They've at least tasted sustained success this season when the Wizards won seven of nine games and reached .500 for the first time in several years.

The Knicks (7-16) are there for the taking. Get out to a good start, and the Wizards can get them going downhill fast. That would require, however, not allowing the Knicks to get out to the first-quarter start that the Los Angeles Clippers had Saturday (13 of 21, 61.9%)