CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — J.R. Smith is normally the guy watching Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winning shot, not the one knocking it down.
But with Anthony nursing a lacerated finger, the New York Knicks turned to Smith for the last shot and the eight-year NBA veteran delivered.
Smith hit a fallaway jumper from the left wing as time expired to give the Knicks a 100-98 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
“I was hurt, but J.R. made it feel better,” Anthony said.
Anthony scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half, but went cold in the second half and wasn’t on the floor for the final 2:10 after injuring his left hand diving into the Knicks’ bench for a loose ball.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Anthony received five stitches in the middle finger of his left hand.
Anthony’s finger was wrapped after the game and he said it was a deep cut. He said he sliced it open on something sharp on the bench.
“I’m going to take some time off from diving in the stands,” he said.
Anthony said he isn’t sure if he’ll play in Thursday night’s showdown at Miami.
“Right now it’s numb, so I don’t know,” he said.
Tyson Chandler had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Knicks. Smith finished with 13 points.
Kemba Walker had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Bobcats (7-10), who have lost five straight games since equaling last season’s win total. Gerald Henderson scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in his second game back after a 13-game layoff.
The Bobcats appeared in position to win late in the game after a miss by Raymond Felton with 14 seconds left, but rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made an ill-advised pass toward the top of the key and Smith stepped in front of it to intercept it.
After a timeout, Smith drove to the left side and hit an 18-footer over Kidd-Gilchrist.
“It was unbelievable,” Smith said. “It was the first game-winner I’ve ever hit. I knew what move I wanted to go to with my step-back, but it was just a matter of getting there and setting him up to it. Fortunately he fell for it and I got it off.”
The Bobcats had a foul to give, but elected not to foul Smith.
Anthony came in averaging 30.6 points over the past six games and was sharp early, hitting seven of his first 11 shots from the field for 20 points.
But he missed his first 10 shots of the second half.
Anthony drove hard to the lane at one point and put up a layup but was blocked by Bismack Biyombo, who gave him the Dikembe Mutumbo finger wag as Anthony pleaded for a goaltending call. Anthony didn’t hit his first field goal of the second half until 2:35 remained in the game just before exiting.
Woodson called the win a “total team effort.”
The final minute was a frantic one, particularly for the Bobcats, who seemed to panic at times and incur self-inflicted turnovers.
“We got three key steals and a 24-second violation and we had a 5-second count,” Woodson said. “Those are all winning defensive plays coming down the stretch.”
The most costly was Kidd-Gilchrist’s bad pass over the middle. After Felton missed, the Bobcats pushed the ball up the floor and instead of pulling the ball out for the last-second shot, the rookie threw the ball into double coverage.
“I thought he had an open lane,” Walker said. “I guess they recovered fast. He’s young. You know, we’re young. We’re going to stick with him and get on to the next one.”
Walker, who has made a major improvement from his rookie season, stepped up his game against Felton and the Knicks.
On one third-quarter drive, he electrified the crowd by faking out a defender near the top of the key, driving the left side of the lane before spinning awkwardly in the air and laying it off the glass and drawing a foul on Steve Novak for a three-point play.
The Bobcats led 53-51 despite 20 first-half points from Anthony.
Charlotte got a strong performance from Walker and Ben Gordon, who continued his red-hot shooting in the early going and finished with 17 points. Gordon came in having made 18 of 26 3-point attempts over the past three games and 3 of 5 against the Knicks.
Walker continued to play well at home with 12 points and six assists before the break.
Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said despite the loss, the close game is more proof the Bobcats are making good strides.
“We’re playing everyone tough,” Dunlap said. “We’re just not getting the results right now, but there’s no reason to be down about this thing. We believe as we gain experience we’ll be able to perform in more of the situations that we get with these young guys.”
NOTES: Kidd-Gilchrist was selected by the NBA as the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for November. … Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was a guest of Bobcats owner Michael Jordan in his owner’s suite. … Jason Kidd had seven points and three blocked shots in 25 minutes after missing the last four games with a sore back.
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