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NBA notes: Knicks' J.R. Smith is Sixth Man of the Year
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

J.R. Smith won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award Monday after turning a role he didn't want into one of the strengths of the New York Knicks' first division championship team in nearly two decades.

Smith received 484 points, including 72 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 writers and broadcasters. The Clippers' Jamal Crawford finished second with 352 points, getting 31 first-place votes.

Smith averaged 18.1 points in 80 games, all off the bench. He had 29 games in which he scored 20 points as a reserve, tying Crawford for the NBA lead.

The 6-foot-6 swingman wanted to start, but said he accepted it fairly quickly once coach Mike Woodson told him he would be a reserve.

The New Jersey native had by far his best NBA season, helping the Knicks to their first Atlantic Division title since 1994.

"I just wanted to show everybody that I could be a team guy and it's all about the team," Smith said at a news conference attended by his family, teammates and coaches.

New York is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and leads the Boston Celtics 1-0 in their first-round playoff series.

Around the league

Suns • Phoenix parted ways Monday with general manager Lance Blanks after the second-worst season in franchise history. Blanks had served as general manager since Aug. 5, 2010. But this season was a harsh one as the Suns struggled to adjust after trading away two-time league MVP Steve Nash and letting former All-Star Grant Hill leave to kick off a rebuilding effort. The Suns finished 25-57, the second-worst record in franchise history behind their 16-66 effort in their inaugural season in 1968-69.

Hawks • Forward Josh Smith missed practice Monday because of a sprained right ankle. The Hawks are hopeful he will be able to go in Game 2 against Indiana on Wednesday. The Pacers won the opener.

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