NEW YORK -- One night after doing a disservice to the term shooting guard, Toney Douglas showed that his name and that title can actually fit together.
Less than 24 hours after shooting 0-for-7 at the starting 2-guard in a loss to the Celtics in Hartford, Douglas scored 23 points and was paired alongside point guard Raymond Felton for much of the third quarter before running the show by himself down the stretch and leading the Knicks past Washington 92-90.
"I've played the 2 before. I'm a guard. In college I played the point, but at the same time I still had the versatility to play 1 and 2. It doesn't mess up my game," said Douglas, who came off the bench to start the second quarter, played all 12 minutes in the period and scored 11 points before halftime. In the third quarter, he played the final 6:27 alongside Felton and shot 3-for-5, then moved over to the point as Felton sat the final 12 minutes
Douglas' emergence as an option at shooting guard is coming at an opportune time.
Coach Mike D'Antoni had been saying that the competition for playing time at the backup wing spots was between Bill Walker, Landry Fields and Roger Mason, but only Fields has distinguished himself with any kind of consistency over the course of the first five exhibition games. The nice thing about using Douglas alongside Felton in the backcourt is that is forces the opposition to put a slower defender on one of the two.
"He was a non-making [shooting] guard [on Saturday]," D'Antoni said. "But then again, it's the reason Raymond took off because you got Toney in the game and you put Ray Allen on Ray [Felton] because [Rajon] Rondo goes on Toney, so now Ray [Felton] goes off. So do you contribute that to Toney? Or do you just look and say he was 0-for-7 and didn’t play really well. And, with him on the floor we took off and looked really good. Now was that him? Those are just things we’re trying to figure out."
Douglas scored the winning points Sunday, faking Lester Hudson off an inbounds play, then cutting backdoor to receive a perfect pass from Ronny Turiaf. Douglas was fouled on the play and made both shots to snap a 90-90 tie, capping a night in which his point total matched his uniform number.
Douglas' 9-for-17 shooting did wonders for a field goal percentage that was at .231 after the first four exhibitions. Fields, more of a small forward than a two guard, shot 3-for-3 to improve his preseason stats to 12-for-20 (60 percent), while Mason (1-for-3) bad his fifth straight bad shooting night and Walker (sprained ankle) sat out for a second straight night.
So for now, it is fair to say Fields has taken the lead among the threesome battling for bench minutes on the wing. But it's also fair to say Douglas has made a case that it should be a four-man race.
"I don’t know if two of those three will play, or one, or whatever, but I wouldn’t just limit it to them because it goes all the way down, and can Toney play the 2?," D'Antoni said. "Can he get minutes other than just the backup 1, so there’s competition there. And does the 2 play so well that we move Wil[son Chandler] down to 4, and now [Anthony] Randolph gets squeezed? So all those guys are in competition. I would say from the seventh player, even down to about the fifth player on, there’s competition getting minutes and that’s the way it should be."