Raymond Felton Wins NBA Player of the Night After NY Knicks Devastate Miami Heat

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

Dec 6, 2012; Miami FL, USA; New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) drives to the basket as Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (50) defends during the first half at American Airlines Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Raymond Felton and the New York Knicks gave the Miami Heat the most brutal of wake-up calls, as the point guard led a Carmelo Anthony-less squad to a blowout victory in South Beach.

It was a night that saw O.J. Mayo lead the Dallas Mavericks out of the NBA doldrums and to a victory over the Phoenix Suns.

It was also a night that saw LeBron James do whatever he could to lead the Heat to a victory. But it wasn't enough.

Because, ultimately, it was a night that belonged to Felton.

The floor general took a New York team that was down its best player and willed it to victory against what is widely considered the most prolific entity in the entire league, leaving no doubt that the Knicks are a championship-caliber force to be reckoned with.

Stat Line: 27 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals on 50 percent shooting.

Once it became clear Anthony wouldn't be taking the floor against James and crew, the Knicks were thought to have less than a puncher's chance at snagging a second-consecutive victory over the Heat.

Or so we thought.

New York battled all night, refusing to yield to the limitations that an Anthony-less rotation suggested they would meet.

The Knicks were able to stay within three by the end of the first quarter, a deficit they were then able to erase by halftime. They then blew it open in the third quarter, going up by as many as 18, ultimately bringing a 10-point lead into the fourth.

Miami wouldn't go quietly, however. Actually, strike that, LeBron wouldn't go quietly. At all.

The Chosen One finished one assist shy of his second straight triple-double in what was nothing short of a valiant effort. He single-handedly kept the Heat in the game through three quarters, hoping to provide the answer that his team needed.

But Miami had no answers. It had no response for the Knicks' 18 three-pointers. It had no counterclaim for New York's two consecutive 30-point quarters.

It had no solution for Felton.

After losing Anthony, someone in orange and blue needed to step up. That someone proved to be Felton.

He never stopped attacking. Even after he air-balled his first two shot attempts, he never lost that aggressive mentality. He just kept going.

And his relentless assault proved to be effective. He consistently created easy looks at the basket for his teammates while drilling six three-pointers of his own as well. He was simply sensational.

Naturally, New York expected Felton to assume a more prominent role in South Beach. With no Anthony—to go along with no Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert—every rotational player became a more vital contributor.

But Felton's efforts were something more. Let's not forget that he continues to play through a bone bruise in his left hand. That alone is admirable, rendering his performance nothing short of inspirational.

Because despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference coming in, the Knicks had yet to establish themselves as that undeniable powerhouse. In the midst of 13 wins and an unbeaten record at home, New York still had plenty to prove.

After handing Miami its first home loss of the season, though, it's safe to say that whatever the Knicks needed to prove has been affirmed.

Let it be known, however, that while New York pulled out a statement win in South Beach without Anthony, this performance—victory No. 14—doesn't happen without Felton.

Nothing the Knicks have accomplished this season happens without Felton.


All stats in this article are accurate as of December 6, 2012.