Opening Tip: Felton's resilience is key
November, 19, 2012
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
Debby Wong/US PresswireRaymond Felton, in his second act in New York, has come through in big spots for the Knicks.Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: How impressive has Raymond Felton been in situations when the Knicks have needed big plays?
Against the Grizzlies on Friday night, with his team down nearly 20 points, Felton made three consecutive shots toward the end of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 11.
Then on Sunday afternoon, with the Knicks and Pacers neck-in-neck through the second quarter, and everyone laying bricks for several minutes, Felton scored six straight points to give his guys the largest advantage in the game, 35-27.
While the Knicks only won the Pacers game, it's been that kind of resilience from Felton that has come through in every game. He's entered his second go-around in New York with a chip on his shoulder, coming off of his worst season in Portland (11.4 points per game). And while Felton won't admit it, he knows everyone was talking about the loss of Jeremy Lin; not about the addition of himself.
Felton is in great shape and has not only set the tempo for the Knicks at the start of games -- they are second in the NBA in average first-quarter scoring margin (+4.1) -- but he also gives them a punch whenever he's in the game, especially nearing the finish line. The team ranks first in average fourth-quarter scoring margin (+4.9).
Felton's energy level has been consistent and whenever he sees an open lane, he attacks it like a running back with his short and burly frame. He also has the upper-body strength to jump into taller defenders, absorb contact and finish at the rim.
Before the Pacers game, Mike Woodson said Felton has been "everything and more for our ball club" -- and the starting point guard isn't done yet.
"I think he's still learning," the coach said. "I think our team as a group is still trying to learn one another, because we haven't been together that long. But Raymond, in particular, the fact that he's the point guard and he's asked to lead our ball club, along with Jason and Pablo, he's been great. I mean, he's doing everything that's asked of him."
While Felton's shooting percentages are a bit low -- he's 42.1, 36.4 and 62.5 percent from the field, downtown and the stripe, respectively -- his non-stop motor on offense and defense, as well as his passing (6.5 assists per game), has set a positive example from the top. You need that from your floor general.
What's impressed you most about Felton's play? Leave us your comments below.
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