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Knicks coach Woodson blames Beno Udrih for ill-advised three-pointer from J.R. Smith

Jan 5, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

For the second time this season, a member of the New York Knicks launched a shot late in the game that showed no regard for how much time was remaining, the score, or the game’s overall situation. And the team’s head coach, Mike Woodson, wants to pin at least part of the blame for this most basic of mistakes on someone other than the shooter.

The play unfolded like this: The Knicks were tied with the Rockets with under a minute remaining, and New York inbounded the ball with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. After a miss from Beno Udrih, an offensive rebound from Tyson Chandler and a reset of the offense, Udrih got it back and kicked it to J.R. Smith at the top of the three-point arc with 21 seconds left.

What’s supposed to happen, here, is that Smith holds for the game’s final shot, where the worst case scenario is a miss that sends it into overtime. But Smith immediately launched a three, similar to what Andrea Bargnani did a few weeks earlier in Milwaukee.

Smith was happy to take the blame afterward, posting to his Twitter account that any “slander” directed at him for the error was indeed well-deserved. But Woodson felt others should share in the responsibility for Smith’s mistake, and said as much at his team’s shootaround on Sunday.

From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

When Woodson was asked about it on Sunday he said: “Again, I’ve been around this a long time and you think you’ve seen it all and something creeps in throughout the course of a ballgame and you shake your head and say ‘wow.’ But it happens. It happens in all sports no matter what level it is. Unfortunately, he went blank. What are you going to do? You can’t go back and get it.” …

“The bottom line is you look at his shot but did Beno have to throw him the ball?” Woodson added. “You gotta look at that.”

The implication is that Udrih, as the point guard, should have known to hold the ball for one shot as opposed to passing to a wide open player in position to shoot. On the Knicks last possession, Udrih missed a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.

This, quite honestly, is completely ridiculous. But in the dynamic the Knicks have created in the Woodson-Smith pairing, it was almost a predictable response.

Smith is believed to be a fragile talent that needs to be coddled to a certain extent to gain maximum results, and Woodson to his credit has had a knack for doing so, seeing J.R. play himself into a Sixth Man of the Year award last season.

But while Udrih certainly has his issues, passing the ball to an open teammate in an end-of-game situation isn’t one of them. Smith should have known the score, and this gaffe is all on him no matter how Woodson has chosen to spin it in the days that have followed.

  1. detectivejimmymcnulty - Jan 5, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Wow. JR Smith got paid and said the hell with it. Much like Larry Sanders.

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Sure, blame the 3rd string pt guard (who’s actually a legit backup) who’s been playing very well.

      JR admitted he didn’t even know the score at the time let alone them having the last possession. What a joke.

      Coaches can coach but they can’t give players brains.

  2. ravenswhat - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    It’s still a surprise to people that Woodson is a fool?

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      Well, it was to me. I knew he was a bad coach, but fool seems proper here.

  3. csbanter - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:27 PM

    Woody will be on the sidelines as a spectator if he continues to support JR.

  4. boondocksaint224 - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    It’s idiotic to claim that it was the wrong play to kick the ball out to an open teammate away from defensive pressure in that situation. Pretty low class, too. Udrih didn’t tell Smith to shoot it.

  5. geosoul3 - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    Woodson is actually right. If you watch the replay, Udrih threw the ball like a “hot potato” at JR, pretty much saying shoot the ball. Yeah JR is supposed to know the score but, Udrih is the PG, he’s supposed to take the ball back and reset the offense. If he would of did that, JR would have had time to look at the score.

    • casualcommenter - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      Woodson is actually wrong. If you watch the replay, you’d know that Udrih caught the ball on the wing and had a defender rush out to meet him. Meanwhile, Smith’s defender was “asleep” and was nowhere near Smith.

      Udrih is a point guard.

      The point guard was in a position where he had a defender on him, but his team’s second-best scorer was left wide open at the top of the key.

      The point guard made a smart play, passing the ball to the second-best scorer, who should have held onto the ball and then tried to create a shot for himself or a teammate as time expired.

      Instead, Smith made a stupid play, and he even admitted it later, so this isn’t even debatable. This is fundamental basketball IQ – you either have it or you don’t. JR had the self-awareness to later realize he made a mistake. He should always know the score at all times.

      You, with the benefit of hindsight, don’t have that same comprehension.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      That’s like telling a kid to hand out cupcakes to his class and accidentally giving the fat kid an extra one, which also was the last. Just because the kid gave him the extra cupcake didn’t mean the fat kid had to eat it.

      JR Smith’s the fat kid. He’ll shoot anything you hand him. Just like a fat kid being given extra cupcakes. Beno is the nice kid just doing his job in a tense situation. Yeah, he’s rough around the edges, but the fat kid didn’t have to compound his mistake just because he was hungry.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:19 AM

        May I also add that Mr. Woodson should be to blame here for not explaining to the class that they shouldn’t eat the last cupcake before the told them to. Because a fat kid like J.R. might just get two, and we also saw what happened then.

    • aht66 - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:01 AM

      SCAPEGOAT??? Udrih is definitely becaoming that for JR’s boned play. Yes the PG is supposed to reset the offense , but passing out of a doubletime to an open player is NOT an indication to shoot the ball. JR is a shot first player, and it would not have mattered what the situation was he would as he always does.. look to launch the ball. Mike Woodson placing the blame on the PG is ridiculous because there should have been a plan in place prior to that final possesion. The previous play broke down and the Knicks got the offensive rebound. A timeout should have been called to setup a play for the last shoot. Im starting to see why Wooding couldn’t win in Atlanta

    • raidmagic - Jan 6, 2014 at 7:58 AM

      NO he isn’t. Every team in the league puts the ball in the hands of a scorer when time is running down. I am a Magic fan and watch Beno play last year. Not the guy I want with his hands on the ball at the end of a game.

  6. jolink653 - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    What an asinine comment by Woodson; you’re gonna throw your point guard under the bus for passing the ball to an open player? Did Udrih force him to jack up that brick? Now what that does it alienate Udrih and damage his relationship with Woodson. JR has to know that game situation, and coddling him for making awful mistakes is just stupid. He’s a grown man and he should not have to be babied. Put the blame on the player who made the mistake, put the blame on yourself as the coach, but don’t blame someone who was just moving the ball like he was supposed to

  7. antistratfordian - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    What’s supposed to happen, here, is that Smith holds for the game’s final shot, where the worst case scenario is a miss that sends it into overtime.

    This is flawed thinking. The worst case scenario is missing the final shot (highly likely) and losing in overtime (very likely) and realizing afterwards that this uncontested three was probably your best chance to win the game.

    This is NOT similar to the Bargnani shot because in that case the Knicks had a two point lead. Having the lead is one of two situations where you could justify passing up such a fantastic, completely uncontested look late in a tight contest (the other is if you’re playing at home in a tied game where overtime is your friend). If you are on the road against a team with a better record and the game is tied – or obviously if you’re down – you need to take that shot. You’re not going to get a better chance to win the game than that.

  8. marcusfitzhugh - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    JR should have been aware of both the shot and game clocks, but it’s the job of the floor general to call a play. Simply throwing the ball to a wide open player, when it’s late in a tied game is a good way to get a player to shoot. The NY PGs …..smh

  9. lhollis74 - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    Simple truth is, pau doesn’t want to play for d’antoni. And as a lakers fan I don’t blame him. Let me get my head wrapped around this: I’m (pau) a multiple time all star even from the days of being Memphis’ first all star, have won 2 nba world titles and 1 world basketball championship with Spain and you (d’antoni) want to just completely disregard using my strengths by feeding me the ball in the low post and run this “system” of yours?
    This whole debacle is pathetic! If you are paying attention you’ll see that pau is getting touches, as d’antoni claims, but 90% of the time pau is catch in the ball near the free throw line already facing up! there aren’t very many intentional post up plays ran for pau down on the block. I don’t care who you are, if your coach insists that you play in a way that is contradictory to what you do best, at some time your frustration will cause you to seek relief, and relief for pau is one thing, finding a new coach.

  10. lhollis74 - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Oops, wrong topic, sorry

    • 5xchamp24 - Jan 6, 2014 at 8:54 AM


  11. cruzan80 - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    Woodson’s right. Chandler passed the ball to the PG. Beno should’ve just pulled the ball out & run a play for the final shot of the game. Instead, he promptly passed it to a wide open trigger happy JR Smith as if they needed a shot. There’s a reason why Beno is a journeyman in this league. That being said, Smith is still an idiot for shooting it but if Tyson’s pass were to let’s say one Jason Kidd….I think there’s a different article written.

  12. borderline1988 - Jan 6, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    So in other words, Woodson is saying that it’s the PG’s job to think for everyone else. Players can shut their brains off and think they’re down by 2 when in fact they’re tied, and jack up stupid shots in bad situations because it’s the PG’s job to think that all out for them.

    Anyways whether or not Woodson is right, as a coach how do you call out a player like that? How do you think this makes Udrih feel? People already think JR Smith is coddled too much by this franchise (they freaking signed his brother for no other reason than to appease JR).

    This is becoming a circus and I don’t see how any of it gets fixed…

  13. azarkhan - Jan 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Woodson is simply being a coward when he blames Beno Udrih for a stupid play by JR Smith. NYC the mecca of basketball? LOL

  14. unxpexted1 - Jan 6, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    What Woodson is saying is “C’mon Beno you know JR Smith is a bonehead and was gonna shoot the rock”

    • danfrommv - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      And that is what makes his statement correct

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