INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — J.R. Smith's return from suspension was, ahem, soup-er. For one half.
Smith scored all 19 of his points in the second half on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time), but the struggling Cavaliers couldn't stop Denver's long-range shooting attack in a 126-117 loss to the Nuggets.
Much like his season, Smith's comeback after he was benched by Cleveland for throwing a bowl of soup at Cavs assistant coach Damon Jones was strange. One of the NBA's least bashful shooters, Smith did not attempt a shot in the first half.
But he let loose after halftime, making seven of eight shots before missing his last four.
"In the second half I just figured to hell with it, just be more aggressive," Smith said. "If they double me, try to get around them and then make a play. Just a different mindset, I guess."
It's been an interesting 72 hours for Smith, who did not reveal his soup choice or the ingredients that steamed him so much he threw his soup at Jones following Thursday's shootaround.
He sat out that night's game against the 76ers, adding another dramatic twist to what has been a tumultuous season for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
Asked before the Cavs fell to the Nuggets what he could share about the soup spat, Smith was as cold as gazpacho.
"Nothing," he said.
And as for the kind of soup he flung?
"Honestly," he said Saturday following the team's shootaround. "I don't even remember."
Smith refused to say if he agreed with the discipline. He said he spoke with his teammates about what happened but not with Jones, a former NBA player who has been on Tyronn Lue's staff for two seasons.
"It's not really my call," the 31-year-old said on the merits of his punishment. "More than anything, I talked to my teammates about it, everybody seemed cool. We moved on from it as a team, so whether it warranted a suspension or not, that's not my job. I'm just here to play basketball."