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Video: Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr. bulldozes his way through Blake Griffin

dennis smith jr, blake griffin

It’s been easy to forget Dennis Smith, Jr. this season. Usurped in the Dallas Mavericks’ long-term hierarchy by rookie sensation Luka Doncic, the sophomore floor general seemed to elicit less excitement after his trade to the New York Knicks than the team’s newfound ability to sign two max-level free agents this summer.

That makes sense. Mere dreams of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wearing orange and blue, after all, is probably enough to keep long-suffering Knicks faithful up at night.

But Smith could be an integral part of New York’s future, too, especially if he consistently plays with the fire and intensity he’s showing on Friday against the Detroit Pistons. What’s Smith supposed to do here – just let a man the size of Blake Griffin level him with a backcourt screen?

Unfortunately, giving the Pistons star a hard, two-handed shove probably isn’t the right approach, either. Smith was called for a flagrant-1 foul on the play, and rightfully so. Next time, perhaps he’ll take the path of least resistance, scurrying around either side of Griffin with narrow shoulders and flipped hips.

Smith, in one of the finest performances of his young career, had 31 points and eight assists on just 15 shots against Detroit. It wasn’t enough for the Knicks, though, who lost to the Pistons, 120-103.