New York Knicks guards Iman Shumpert (21) and J.R. Smith (8) smiles as they walk toward the bench after a timeout was called during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Dallas. The Knicks won 92-80. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)

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Jerry Zgoda's short takes

  • January 11, 2014 - 10:59 PM

Joke’s on him

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith’s little joke — attempting to untie an opponent’s shoelaces while both are at the free-throw line — cost him a $50,000 fine last week. He was warned by the NBA after he reached down and untied Dallas’ Shawn Marion’s laces and then got fined when he unsuccessfully attempted to do it again in another game. His actions also got him benched by Knicks coach Mike Woodson.

Smith (below) said the $50,000 fine was far too much.

“In my eyes, yeah,” he told reporters. “The first time it was done, everybody thought it was hilarious. The second time it was done, it wasn’t really done. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. I’m not going to fight it.”

Sleep on it

The 76ers consulted with Philadelphia Eagles medical staff and sleep experts before planning their travel this season. They decided to fly home immediately after last weekend’s upset victory at Portland and arrived home at 7 a.m. Sunday after they had considered flying home Sunday afternoon … and then got clobbered in back-to-back games at home against the Wolves and at Cleveland.

The Wolves almost always stay overnight on the West Coast and return the next day rather than fly home on a red-eye flight.

“We explored all options,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “Who knows what’s right?”

Parting words

Wolves star Kevin Love when asked if he expected this kind of season from the upstart Phoenix Suns, the NBA’s surprise story so far: “No, I didn’t. You look at the players they have on their team. They have very good personnel, but I didn’t necessarily think with a first-year coach and some of the personnel they have that they’d be in the playoff picture right now. But with that said, they’re ahead of us and we’re on the outside looking in.”

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