J.R. Smith continues to struggle for the Knicks, who are facing elimination in Game 5 against the Pacers. (AP)
The Knicks lost to the Pacers, 93-82, on Tuesday night to fall behind 3-1 in the series, and guard J.R. Smith isn’t waiting for a repeat of the finger-pointing that occurred after the last game. He’s putting this loss — and the series-long struggles — on his shoulders.
“My frustration with myself is extremely high. I take the blame for this whole series,” said Smith, who shot 7-for-22 for 19 points Tuesday. “It started off in [Game 5] in Boston. … I haven’t been playing [like] myself. I haven’t been playing my part.
“I’ve been letting my teammates down. I’ve been letting my coaches down. And it doesn’t feel good.”
Smith, battling flu-like symptoms the last two games, has struggled since returning from his one-game suspension for elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry in Game 3 of the first-round series that the Knicks won in six games.
Smith was fined $5,000 for flopping in Game 1 vs. the Pacers, and he was widely criticized for going out on the town the night before the afternoon opener, although he denied the accusation.
The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, Smith is shooting 28.6 percent in his last six games, including 27 percent from 3-point range.
“Everybody’s been encouraging me, ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting,” Smith said. “I’m still trying to get to the basket, trying to get easy ones, easy layups, get to the free throw line. But I’m even missing layups, too. I missed a technical free throw tonight. It’s just frustrating.”