Josh NewmanIn all fairness to Beno Udrih, when the 10th-year point guard signed a one-year deal with the Knicks in early August — long after the free agency market began to dry up — he did so with the understanding that he would be the third point guard not be playing a huge role on a Knicks team with designs on a lengthy playoff run.
Raymond Felton is out again, this time with a strained right groin, and Pablo Prigioni remains out with a hairline fracture of his right big toe, so Udrih is being asked to do a lot more than anyone thought he would be asked to do and the results have varied.
In a 123-94 Christmas Day loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Udrih started, played 30 minutes and scored two points, to go along with six assists and four rebounds. Of his six shot attempts, two went off the side of the backboard and one was swatted out of his hand.
“Well, again, Beno struggled a little bit tonight, and I need Beno to play,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said. “I don’t know when those guys (Felton and Prigioni) will actually come back. I really don’t.”
“I kind of feel like when I do the right thing, it’s not the right thing in some people’s eyes,” Udrih said. “It’s just tough. It’s easy to point fingers when the team loses. But when it comes down to it, we are a team, we lose together. No matter who makes a mistake or who doesn’t, it’s still a team loss. So I think all of this stuff should be kept out of the media and not call certain people out or something. We’ve just got to go out there and fix it and watch video and fix it as a team.”
Prigioni has been out since Dec. 11 and is not expected to return until early January. Felton has been in and out of the lineup all season with various hamstring and groin issues. This latest setback kept him out against the Thunder and there is currently no timetable for his return. The Knicks are scheduled to practice on Thursday before opening a home-and-home set with the Toronto Raptors beginning Friday evening at Madison Square Garden.
Until at least one of those two returns, Udrih will be left to carry much of the load at the point. Over the last five games, Udrih is averaging 9.8 points and 5.6 assists in 30.8 minutes per game. He has not played poorly the whole time, not with an assists-to-turnover ratio sitting at almost 5-to-1 in the last five games, but he also isn’t giving what Felton and Prigioni have or can.
“I’ve been playing this sport professionally for 16 years, different leagues and here, this is my 10th year,” Udrih said. “Usually, I was a guy that somehow made the right play at the end of the games or stuff like that. I’ve always been pretty good with not turning over the ball and this year, it’s totally different. I don’t know what happened that summer. I don’t think I forgot (how) to play basketball. so there’s a lot of factors.”