INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Knicks guard J.R. Smith understands the problem.
He's still trying to fix it.
Smith played more like his old self Thursday night, making 6 of 12 shots and finishing with 12 points in a 117-89 loss at Indiana — the Knicks' worst road loss of the season. Afterward, he understood why coach Mike Woodson had benched him twice in the previous four games.
"Yes and no," he said. "I think it's a combination of some things, but we've got to work that out within the team and we'll go from there."
It's been a strange season for the nine-year veteran who won last year's Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Smith came into Thursday night's game with solid averages — 11.4 points, 4. 4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
But productivity hasn't been the issue.
He was suspended without pay for the first five games of the season for violating terms of the league's anti-drug program. The suspension cost him more than $250,000.
He was also fined $25,000 by the league in November for using hostile and inappropriate language on the Twitter account of Pistons' guard Brandon Jennings.
Last week, Smith incurred yet another fine — this time $50,000 from the league for repeated unprofessional behavior. He was caught trying to untie an opponent's sneakers for the second time in two games.
Smith, who expressed his frustration Tuesday, did not talk before Thursday's game.
Woodson, who has said that Smith must be a better pro, reiterated that point after the team's shootaround.
"He's going to have to be with it if he wants to be a part of it," Woodson said when asked if Smith was buying into the Knicks' approach. "As coach, it's my job to make sure that happens. He'll be back in uniform tonight and we expect him to play at a high level. That's what I expect from a coaching standpoint. Just concentrate on playing basketball.'
Smith played reasonably well in his return, though he had only four points in almost 16 minutes through the third quarter. The rest came in the fourth quarter when the Knicks were never closer than 16.