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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.