THURS Practice Report: J.R. & STAT Scrimmage, Starting 5, & More

Jonah Ballow


Smith and STAT Scrimmage Again
After returning to New York at 3 AM this morning, the Knicks went right back to work at MSG Training Center.  For the second time this week, J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire practiced and scrimmaged with the team.  Smith is waiting for full clearance to participate in Friday’s preseason finale at the transformed Garden but he feels strong as the season nears.

“Yeah, I feel like in my head it’s gone,” Smith said in reference to the mental hurdles he has overcome.  “I know my explosiveness isn’t where it was or where it’s going to be yet, that just comes with course of playing the game but as far as my quickness – moving around, back pedaling, lateral movement, I felt great with all of that stuff.”

On the last road trip to Toronto and Green Bay, Smith traveled with the squad for the first time this preseason.  The trip helped the reigning 6th Man of the Year regain the chemistry with his teammates that was so important last year.

“I mean, it was great,” Smith smiled.  “First time in a long time I really have traveled with a large group of people like that and to have the camaraderie of my teammates, going to the movies, going to Lambau Field, and just kicking it with the guys, it’s a totally different atmosphere than just staying and going to the gym and going back home.  You finally get that chance to build a camaraderie with your guys, you learn a lot about people.”

The Starting 5 Discussion
It’s interesting the amount of attention devoted to the discussion of the starting five.  Really, the conversation should start and end with the rotation and the five-man unit on the floor in the last five minutes of a close game.

Iman Shumpert shared his thoughts:  “Woody has stressed to us over and over that he is going to be switching stuff up, he wants to try different lineups, he’s going to put three different point guards out there.  You know, it’s all going to switch up but when we get to the regular season, we will have a tighter rotation, we’ll know what to expect.”

Pablo Prigioni had this to say:  “I will answer with another question.  Do you think J.R. is not important for us?  He’s coming off the bench.  I think the coach tries to balance.”

Preseason Finale at Transformed MSG
Tomorrow night will mark the first game for the Knicks in the completed transformed Madison Square Garden.  After three years of renovation, the fans and players will enjoy a new Garden Vision center-hung multimedia display, transformed Chase Square 7th Avenue entrance, new merchandise store, Chase Bridges, and more.  Tipoff for the Knicks-Bobcats is scheduled for 7:30 PM on MSG Networks.

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