That time might be now.
Forward-center Amare Stoudemire knocked down his first eight shots from the field and paced the Knicks (14-22) with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Forward Carmelo Anthony added 18 points.
Smith was a major catalyst in the win.
"He played well," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We're going to need him to play well."
Before the game, Woodson said it was unclear whether Smith would even play. He was benched for last Thursday's game against the Miami Heat and fined $50,000 by the league for attempting to untie opponents' shoelaces in two straight games.
Smith's name was called to open the second quarter and did he ever deliver. In that quarter alone, the sharpshooting guard scored 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field to go with four assists and two rebounds.
"It was a total team effort, not just J.R.," Woodson said. "It's good to have him back in there."
Smith was thrilled to be back in the lineup.
"I just prepared like I was going to play and came in and played," Smith said. "I just wanted to be aggressive, attack, get back to my old self, play with a chip on my shoulder and it worked.
"It was very important for me as well as the team to get out there and be successful with scoring the ball and getting my teammates open shots."
Hawes had difficult job containing Stoudemire.
"He was playing well," Hawes said. "They got him going. He was a tough cover."
Guard Evan Turner had 12 points and guard Michael Carter-Williams and guard Tony Wroten added 11 apiece for PHILADELPHIA, which struggled mightily on offense. They were just 5 of 19 from 3-point territory.
"I've been feeling pretty good all year," Stoudemire said. "Explosiveness was there, but just coming together as a whole, feeling great. That's really what I've been focusing on the defensive end, man-on-man rotations.
"Offensively tonight, it worked hand in hand and we put a full game together tonight. That was a great win for us."
NOTES: The Knicks were banged up and played without Gs Pablo Prigioni (fracture, right toe) and Beno Udrih (left knee) as well as Fs Tyson Chandler (upper respiratory infection) and Metta World Peace (left knee). ... The Sixers played without Fs Lavoy Allen (right calf) and Arnett Moultrie (left ankle). ... This was the first of four games between the Knicks and Sixers this season. ... The Sixers are 11-15 when G Michael Carter-Williams plays and 1-10 when the rookie is out of the lineup. ... Knicks coach Mike Woodson served as a 76ers assistant coach from 2001 to 2003. ... The Sixers didn't have one player reach 20 points. It's the fourth time this season that has occurred and the Sixers are 0-4 when that happens. ... New York has won eight of the last 10 games against the Sixers.