J.R. Smith certainly doesn’t have visions of sugar plums dancing in his head when he hits the pillow every night, at least not when he’s thinking about the Knicks’ 5-25 record before Dec. 25.
“I mean, it’s a nightmare. We just gotta wake up from it,” said Smith, who has missed the Knicks’ last seven games with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left heel. “I mean, to be 5-25, we had a lot of expectations coming in here, so to be in the situation we’re in, it’s a nightmare for me, anyway.”
Smith indicated he hopes to return to the lineup in a Christmas Day home matinee against Washington “if (the Knicks) let me.”
But coach Derek Fisher wouldn’t commit to either Smith or Amar’e Stoudemire — who missed each of the back-to-back losses over the weekend with what the team claimed were “recovery days” — playing against the Wizards.
“Feeling good, like a Hebrew should,” said Stoudemire, who also hopes to rejoin the lineup despite not participating in practice on Tuesday in Greenburgh. “I feel pretty good. (Wednesday) we have practice, so I’ll get a good run in, and we’ll go from there.
“I’ve been playing so much throughout the stretch. To start the year off we had a game plan to take some back-to-backs off and play limited minutes, but I kind of have taken advantage of not doing that, so we (decided) to take a few games off which gives me a nice little stretch (of rest) before (Thursday’s) game.”
Stoudemire admitted that bypassing last Thursday’s scheduled recovery day and playing in Chicago when Carmelo Anthony was unable to go took a toll on him physically.
“Yeah, it truly did. My body was starting to feel like it needed some rest,” Stoudemire said. “So I was able to take advantage of those two games and now we’ve got a few days of practice that we can somewhat sharpen up on and be ready for the Christmas game.”
Multiple injuries — including Anthony’s on-and-off knee woes, Andrea Bargnani’s season-long absence and the more recent sidelining of Iman Shumpert (dislocated shoulder) — certainly have taken a toll in recent weeks.
But as respected veteran Pablo Prigioni suggested after the Knicks’ 15th loss in 16 games on Sunday in Toronto: “Maybe we don’t enough talent to win.”
Asked what he believes has been missing this season, Smith added: “I think that’s the million-dollar question. It looks like it’s so many things, but at the same time it’s gotta be something real small to change because we’re still in most games. It’s hard to tell right now.
“If we knew, our record would definitely show it.”
Amid the multiple injuries and mounting losses, Fisher has tried 14 different starting lineups through 30 games. As Smith noted, the Knicks have been within five points in the final five minutes 19 times, but they are just 3-16 in those circumstances.
“For me, it’s just the beginning,” Fisher said when asked about Smith’s “nightmare” quote. “And I think for our team and the organization, in terms of what we’re trying to build and where we are going, it’s just the beginning. But guys like J.R. who have been here for a couple of years, it doesn’t feel that way.”
Despite snowballing towards the draft lottery with the most losses in the NBA, the Knicks somehow entered Tuesday’s action just eight games by the Nets for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
And miracles do happen, especially at this time of year.
“Yeah, absolutely, we’re still not far out of that last position, out of the eight teams,” Smith said. “We just gotta turn that switch on, whatever kind of switch it is, we gotta turn it on. Can’t keep waiting.
“Unfortunately, it depends on how everybody else plays as well as us. We’re trying to turn this thing around, so we gotta figure it out.”
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