Raymond Felton Wins NBA Player of the Night After Lifting Knicks Past Spurs
Because of Felton.
New York's display against San Antonio wasn't always pretty, but the point guard's refusal to yield to the Spurs' defense gave the Knicks their sixth straight win, as they remained the NBA's only perfect team.
Stat Line: 25 points, seven assists and three rebounds on 50 percent shooting.
San Antonio's defense was exceptional Thursday night. The Spurs hounded Carmelo Anthony, who entered the game leading the league in scoring, but he only managed to drop nine hard-earned points.
With 'Melo being taken out of the offensive equation, though, someone had to step up. Someone had to spark the Knicks' offense. Someone had to break through what was seemingly an impenetrable defense.
Well, Felton heard the call to action and welcomed it.
He started off the game by scoring New York's first five points, as it became clear early on that Anthony wasn't going to get many easy looks at the basket.
Felton didn't stop attacking, either. All night, he entered the paint with reckless abandon, attempting to reach the rim or simply draw in the defense so he could defer to one of his open teammates.
And draw in the defense he did. Especially in the fourth quarter, where he dropped three of his seven dimes in the latter half of the period. He also set up wide-open three-pointers for Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith in the game's final two minutes as well.
Simply put, Felton helped the Knicks survive down the stretch.
He allowed them to overcome a string of nine consecutive missed threes. He helped lead them past the 12-point deficit they faced with a little over seven minutes remaining. He locked down Tony Parker in the game's waning minutes. And, most importantly, he drove them past a Spurs team that was standing between the Knicks and their claim to legitimate contention.
No, there's no denying how close New York came to losing for the first time this season. This was a grueling matchup between two committed teams both looking to assert their dominance.
If nothing else, understand that there were nine ties and 17 lead changes before the game reached its conclusion.
Understand that the Knicks hadn't won in San Antonio in nearly decade.
Who was the NBA's Top Performer Thursday night?
Understand that the Knicks had to overcome a minus-four on the offensive glass to the Association's worst offensive rebounding team.
Understand that New York coughed up the ball seven times, played with the utmost precision and still barely walked away with the win.
Then understand that the Knicks' imperfections, their deficiencies, they didn't matter.
Their resiliency and Felton's unbridled diligence, however, did.
"It shows me this team is for real," New York Head coach Mike Woodson said (via Tim Price of NBA.com) after the game. "We beat a great team tonight."
The Knicks certainly did beat a great team Thursday night, as they continued to navigate the less-traveled road of perfection.
But let it be known they wouldn't taste perfection, wouldn't be undeniably "real," if it wasn't for Felton.
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