Word of JR Smith’s dunking demonstration in last week’s game has obviously spread, with the crowd doubling in size between the end of tonight’s Game One and the start of the nightcap. Smith – who, it is announced, is to play his home games in Chicago starting next season – doesn’t disappoint, getting things going early with a wicked flush on the run in the game’s first minute. That, however, is the last time either “The Prodigy” or his team find the hoop for a while, with Ms. Jones’ X-Men racking up stats at both ends of the floor to make it a 13-2 game early.
Smith helps make up the difference coming out of an early timeout, however, scoring twice on consecutive plays before making a tricky pass in traffic that leads to a layup which cuts D Block’s deficit to three. The X-Men jump ahead again at this point, consistently finding the open man for a series of mid-range buckets that give them a commanding 30-16 lead with eight minutes left in the half.
D Block again find a way back into the game, this time with relentless defence that allows their opponents only seven points in as many minutes while they ride the hot hand of forward “Fab”, whose layup at the 1:45 mark puts them ahead for the first time since the game’s opening moments. Careless lapses in the half’s final ninety seconds see them fall behind again, but the 44-40 score can’t look too bad to D Block considering they trailed by four times as many points just ten minutes earlier.
The second half continues in the same back-and-forth fashion, and again it’s JR Smith that makes the difference, shaking the stanchion twice in three minutes, first with a two-hand put-back slam, then with an alley-oop that brings the crowd to their feet for the first time this evening.
As he soon shows, however, it certainly won’t be the last time, as he pulls off the play of the summer with two minutes left in the contest. Isolated in his favourite spot on the left wing, he sets his defender up with a few sucker steps before letting lose a bone-breaking crossover that leaves his defender flat on his ass. Not content with just that, he takes off outside the key from a double-footed start and throws down a tomahawk from so high above the rim that it’s a wonder the ball didn’t end up orbiting the earth. While I’m unable to do anything more than mumble words I can’t repeat here, much of the crowd makes for the court (which isn’t surrounded by the usual metal barriers tonight), and the floor is flooded with fans within seconds.
If there’s one thing Rucker Park loves, it’s crossovers. If there are two things Rucker Park loves, it’s crossovers and dunks. Given Smith’s combination of the two in a single play, it’s little surprise that it takes so long to get the folks back in their seats. Although the X-Men make a valiant run once order is restored, the stands aren’t interested in anything but JR Smith now. A steal in the closing seconds gives him a clear path to the basket, and he finishes both the break and the game with a flying one-hander from the hash mark that makes the final score 84-76 in favour of D Block.