11:00 am Mar. 7, 2013
For nearly three full quarters on Wednesday night, Raymond Felton almost single-handedly allowed the lowly Detroit Pistons to open up a ten-point lead over the Knicks. Then he went out and won the game.
The Knicks, who trailed 62-52 late in the third quarter, rode a Felton performance, along with expanded scoring from Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith, to an 87-77 victory.
Responding to coach Mike Woodson's description of his early performance as "ugly", Felton said following the game: "Terrible. He said ugly, I’ll say terrible."
It's not that Felton had been playing well of late, shooting less than 28 percent from three point range and less than 42 percent overall in his past ten games while averaging a meager 3.5 assists per game. But the one positive remaining from his stellar November start to the season was his ability to take care of the ball.
Last night, even that disappeared. The Pistons went up, 62-52, following a Felton missed layup that followed, the possession before, a Felton turnover. At that point, Felton had committed seven turnovers in 24 minutes, while scoring just nine points and adding two assists.
At that moment, Felton transformed, not into a point guard, but as the offensive force that brought the Knicks back, and then some.
With Jason Kidd playing the point, Felton made a three, then following a J.R. Smith three, buried another three, following those with a pair of long two-point jumpers.
These are precisely the shots the Knicks don't want Felton to take; they are low-percentage shots for anyone, and Felton takes way too many of them. But on Wednesday night, they fell, and at precisely the right time.
The Knicks held on in the fourth, scoring 18 of their 22 points on similar midrange jumpers, while the Pistons scored just 12 thanks to a combination of solid Knicks defense and the offensive ineptitude that has made this a lost season for the Pistons.
It's no recipe for success.
Last time he had a shooting night like this, in a December 6 win over Miami, he followed with ten games of less than 35 percent shooting, including less than 17 percent from three. But he tried to make it up in volume, taking 19 shots per game. This did not do the Knicks any favors.
But until Carmelo Anthony returns from his knee injury, which shouldn't happen until he is healthy (which sounds obvious, but tell it to Mike Woodson), someone will have to step up and take more shots. In a perfect world, that would be mostly absorbed by Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, who score at hyper-efficient rates.
But Wednesday night, Felton took 15 shots, Chandler three. And as long as Felton is the regular point guard, that's not likely to change. It's not a great plan, but for now, it's what the Knicks have got.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
A nightmare spring got worse, with news that Mark Teixeira will miss 8-10 weeks with a wrist injury.
Francisco Rodriguez would like to return to the Mets.
The backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson played they way it was supposed to in a 99-78 rout of the Bobcats Wednesday night.