One thing's become crystal clear during the Knicks' current three-game skid: This team misses Raymond Felton. Badly.
New York's ball movement was non-existent at times in Friday night's 108-101 loss to the Bulls, just as it was in losses to Indiana and Boston.
Felton would have made a difference. Just ask Carmelo Anthony.
"We miss Raymond," Anthony said after scoring too many of his game-high 39 points in isolation Friday. "We miss him pushing the tempo of the game. There’s a lot of things that when he was playing we were getting [and] we’re not getting right now. When we have different guys in the lineup, the games change."
The games have changed for the worse for the Knicks (23-13) of late.
Jason Kidd has hit a rough patch. He missed all six of his shots and finished without an assist in 20 minutes. Kidd had an uncharacteristic five turnovers Thursday in Indy.
No one on the Knicks would ever say it, but you have to wonder if the minutes are catching up with the 39-year-old vet.
Pablo Prigioni (12 points, eight assists) picked up the slack on Friday, but he's been inconsistent in Felton's absence, with three assists or fewer in half of the eight games Felton's missed with a fractured right pinky.
No one is saying that Kidd and Prigioni are the reason New York is 3-5 since Felton went down, but the Knicks were quick to admit they've missed Felton's presence at the point.
"There's no doubt," Steve Novak said. "The way he plays the pick-and-roll and the attention he draws. He's aggressive in scoring the ball. Pablo has done a great job and Jason has, too, but we miss him and we hope he'll be back in a couple weeks."
Due in part to bone bruises in both hands, Felton was struggling with his shot before he went down. Fans and some media were questioning his shot selection. So the injury in some ways was a blessing in disguise. It will give the bone bruises in Felton's hands a chance to heal.
Felton told reporters recently that he's hoping to return on Jan. 21 against Brooklyn. Fortunately for the Knicks, they have just two games between now and then, thanks to their Jan. 17 matchup against the Pistons in London.
"We actually need the London trip," Tyson Chandler said.
They also need to take a break from playing the Bulls, who have beaten them three times this season, twice in convincing fashion.
Felton had one of his worst games of the season in that first game against Chicago, shooting 9-for-30 in a Dec. 9 loss.
But the Knicks clearly could have used him on Friday to jump-start an offense that made 29 percent of its shots in the first half.
"He’s a big piece. There’s no doubt about that," Mike Woodson said of Felton. "Until we can get whole as a team, we’ve got to go with what we’ve got."
With Felton out of the lineup for the past eight games, the Knicks have scored two fewer points per 100 possessions and allowed five more.
They are scoring 3.4 fewer points per game. The pick-and-roll opportunities aren't there. Neither are the easy baskets that resulted from Felton's penetration.
"He was doing a phenomenal job of finding guys," Amar'e Stoudemire said. "When a guy like that is out your lineup, your starting point guard, offensively it doesn't flow quite as well."
It didn't flow at all Friday night, another one in which the Knicks sorely missed Raymond Felton.