LOS ANGELES, CA-Leave it up to J.R. New York Knicks guard J. R. Smith brings an edge to his game that one can’t quite measure where it’s coming from. That’s a good thing. That edge has enabled Smith to become one of the top sharpshooters in the NBA. It is also what helped him win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2013. Smith brought that edginess to the Drew League on Sunday, July 20, as La Familia took on Sky Ryse in a must-win game. Teaming up with Metta World Peace, The Game and point guard Rashad McCants, Smith, of course, delivered the goods.
Like every weekend at the Drew League during this yearly stretch of games in which NBA players work on their games in preparation for the upcoming season, the gymnasium was packed. Smith and other the NBA stars didn’t disappoint. For that matter, the Sky Ryse players didn’t either. And that is the beauty of the Drew League, the best summer basketball league around. You get the best of the best. Whether it’s NBA stars such as a J.R. Smith, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant or some young kid trying to make a name for himself, the Drew League rolls out the best basketball talent much like they do for stars walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
Now let’s back to the game itself. This was a battle from the start for La Familia, a team desperately needing a win and to get above .500 ball. Known for his lethal outside shot and streak shooting, Smith sort of picked his spots against Sky Ryse, which went toe-to-toe with La Familia and took the star-laden team all the way down to the final seconds of the game. While The Game and Metta World Peace came up with big-time shots throughout the contest, everyone in the gym probably had an inkling that the final shot would come from Smith with Sky Ryse up, 78-77, and the clock ticking slowly towards zero.
Smith did take the last shot, but it wasn’t one of his long-range bombs he threw up. Instead, Smith caught Sky Ryse’s defense napping, faked the outside shot and drove to the basket to give La Familia a 79-78 lead. Sky Ryse still had some ticks on the clock left to get off two more attempts to win the game. However, a steal by World Peace and a free throw by Smith sealed the winning deal for La Familia’s 80-78 victory.