Knicks & Nets Insider: J.R. says groin shot unintentional

By on November 8, 2014

J .R. Smith returned to the Knicks’ lineup Friday night in Brooklyn after serving a one-game suspension for what he insisted was an unintentional striking of Washington’s Glen Rice Jr. in the groin earlier this week.

“I wasn’t surprised. It is what it is,” Smith said at the morning shootaround at Barclays Center. “At this stage of my career with all the suspensions and stuff like that, once I knew I had to make the phone call, something was going to come down from it.

“It is what it is, just got to move on and try and win some games.”

Asked if he believes his reputation preceded him — and affected league president Rod Thorn’s decision — in his third suspension since joining the Knicks in 2012, Smith added, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s something that anybody’s seen that was deliberate about (the play). . . . They did. Just got to take it for what it is.”

Smith, who scored eight points in 24 minutes in the Knicks’ 110-99 loss to the Nets, served his one-game ban at the team hotel as the Knicks lost to the host Pistons, 98-95, Wednesday night, but he confirmed that the players’ union will file a grievance on his behalf in an attempt to recoup the game check ($ 54,385) he forfeited for the suspension.

“I was just trying to clear space. It was a short shot clock, I was trying to clear space to get as close to the basket as I could to get the shot off. It definitely wasn’t anything intentional,” Smith said, adding he was unaware that Rice, who was called for a blocking foul on the play, was down and in pain. “I didn’t know. I seen him on the floor. I was trying to figure out what happened. Was he bleeding or something or what? The ref didn’t call it. The ref called a foul on him.

“I didn’t really see what happened.”

Smith also was suspended for one game during the 2013 playoffs for elbowing Boston’s Jason Terry in the head and he started last season with a five-game ban for violating the NBA’s drug policy. He later was fined $ 25,000 for directing what the league deemed a “hostile and inappropriate” tweet at Detroit guard Brandon Jennings and another $ 50,000 for untying the shoelaces of multiple opponents during games.

“It’s always tough being suspended, period,” Smith said. “To go out there and watch the team play, knowing you can’t really do anything to help at that point, especially when we were going through our rough patches and what not — it’s hard.”

Smith added that he went over what went wrong in the Detroit game on the Knicks’ return flight home with assistant coach Rasheed Hazzard.

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“I think we’re thinking too much. We’re not reacting. That’s one of the things I really took from it,” Smith said. “I was actually watching the game with Rasheed and he was telling me, ‘You guys just look like robots. You’re just trying to do everything right at one time.’

“It’s not going to work like that. Basketball is a game of taking advantage of other people’s mistakes. Right now we’re just trying to run everything correctly. It’s not going to be like that.”

The Nets have three max-contract players on their roster, touted for years as the core that would bring Brooklyn success. On Friday — for the first time in a long time — there was a glimpse of the Nets’ capabilities when Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are clicking simultaneously.

“It opens up the floor for everybody,” said Johnson (18 points). “There is no game plan for that.”

“Obviously, that (all three players playing well at the same time) hasn’t been the case in my three years here.”

Friday’s victory represented the first time that all three players scored at least 18 points in the same game since April of 2013. Deron Williams dropped in a game-high 29, while Lopez had 20.

“I don’t know (how good we can be),” Williams said. “I guess we’ll see that come June.”

The Nets honored former Nets owner Lewis Katz with a video tribute after the first quarter. A ceremony on the court also included NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Nets ownership representative Dmitry Razumov. Katz, who owned the New Jersey Nets from 1998- 2004, was killed in a plane crash in May.

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