Cleveland Cavaliers teammates JR Smith and Iman Shumpert connected on a spectacular reverse alley-oop against their former team Sunday, as the visiting Cavs handed the New York Knicks a 101-83 loss.
Smith and Shumpert clearly enjoyed playing in their old stomping grounds.
LeBron James led the way with 18 points in the win, and passed childhood hero Allen Iverson on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list.
Per the NEOMG:
“That was beautiful,” James said. “That was special. I was planning on not getting up too many times off the bench, start my treatment session, but that was special.” […] “They’ve given us everything we’ve asked, and more,” James said, about the former Knicks. He was asked about them all weekend. “We love them. I know I do. I love them and I’m happy to have them on board.”
In the simplest sense, alley-oops can’t happen without teamwork. Shumpert needed to lob a strike to Smith, who had to catch it midair and complete the play. That Smith turned into a Sprite Slam Dunk Contest-worthy entry would seem to suggest that he and Shumpert had something planned, you know, if the moment arose in their Garden return. […] “Nah, they kind of cheated to cut him off, so he went back door,” Shumpert said. “Just playing basketball, man. It was fun though.”
Cleveland coach David Blatt said he told Smith right after the dunk: “Thank you for the price of admission.” […] Smith, often maligned in New York and elsewhere for some attitude and off-court issues, was asked if a coach had ever said anything like that to him before. “Maybe Woody (former Knicks coach Mike Woodson) a few times, other than that, no coach has ever done that,” Smith said. “That’s the special thing about coach Blatt, he doesn’t let anything go. He’s not too big thing for anything, if it’s a play you make, he’s going to let you know it was the right play or it’s the wrong play, and I think that’s one of the special things about him. Ever since I’ve been here, it’s been a pleasure to play for him.”