Harris DeckerIf I were into writing in all capitals, I’d write the following sentence like this: WHERE HAS THIS PLAY BEEN?
As it stands, I’m not really an all-caps kind of guy. That question needs to be highlighted and pointed to over and over, though. Thursday night, against the Miami Heat, Raymond Felton showed up in a huge way, breaking down the defense and dishing to the open man 14 times. He was the player of the game, as he did what most point guards usually do against the Knicks. What I want to know is where this was in the beginning of the season?
Before Thursday night, Felton had broken 10 assists just once over his 19 games played this year. That once was back in early November against the Minnesota Timberwolves, when he racked up 12. Last night’s 14 assists were the key to a big win over the Miami Heat and it was apparent that solid point guard play is the missing piece for this Knicks team.
More important than the 14 assists were the two turnovers. In a game with that much passing, you’d expect a larger number of turnovers. Going 14 and two is amazing, and adding 13 points is just gravy.
Amar’e Stoudemire was the other stud last night. Playing key minutes down the stretch, he battled underneath for the grittiest 14 points I’ve seen in a long time. He fought against Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson, backing down time after time in the post. He had a statement jam late in the fourth when the Knicks passed the ball around outside for about nine seconds before finding a wide open Stat under the basket. That slam was a statement from not only the Knicks, but from Amar’e himself.
Stoudemire also added 11 rebounds, a season high for him. With Tyson Chandler out of the lineup, he and Andrea Bargnani played great games, hitting shots and making an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Bargnani contributed 19 points and a blocked shot in the win.
This was a team win. Five guys were in double figures, there were two double-doubles (Felton and Stoudemire) and more passes than in any game this season. The ball was flowing and if Felton can continue to breakdown defenses and Stoudemire can be a presence in the paint, the Knicks will continue this streak and get themselves turned around real soon.