Raymond Felton

Felton Elevator Doors Play (Video)

From tonight’s win over Charlotte…

I’ve always been a fan of teams running the “elevator doors” play, where a shooter will run between two screeners who then close the gap, like a set of elevator doors. Plenty of teams around the league run a variation of the play. Golden State is probably the team that has popularized the play most. Dating back to last season, the Knicks have used the play to get Raymond Felton open looks. I believe we’d already seen it once or twice over the first few games, and we saw it tonight. They ran it on their 2nd offensive possession of the game. Felton missed the shot, but it was a good look and it’s a good play.

Game Recap 3/31: Knicks vs. Celtics

Happy Easter!

It’s so much more fun to write a recap for win instead of a loss. And even more fun when it’s so much more fun to write a recap for win instead of a loss. And even more fun when it’against the Celtics.

The Knickerbockers won its eighth straight game on Sunday, defeating the Boston Celtics 108-89 at the World’s Most Famous Arena. They now have a 4 ½ game lead in the Atlantic Division, and the magic number to clinch the division is at 6.

With the win, the Knicks took the season series from the Celtics 3-1, and have all but ended Boston’s reign atop the division.

The Knicks dominated this game from about the second quarter on, and held a double-digit lead for the majority of the second half. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 24 points on 9-19 shooting, despite only taking a handful of shots in the second half. He was also a beast on the offensive glass and grabbed 10 rebounds in all, but really looked aggressive crashing the basket.

The key to the game was the bench. Chris Copelandia poured in 22 points the lead the second unit, a role usually designated to J.R. Smith. After three straight 30-point games, Smith scored 15 on 4-12 shooting. He didn’t have the great shooting nights he has had in the past week or so, but Smith did a lot of good things tonight. He continued his drive-first mentality and got to the free-throw line 10 times, as well as grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Copeland played a huge role with Kenyon Martin being sidelined due to a strained abdominal muscle, and played 20 important minutes. He was 6-10 from the field en route to his 22 points, and also grabbed five rebounds. He got to the line nine times himself, and as a unit the Knicks took 31 free-throws.

Overall, this was a fairly easy win for the Knicks, and they coasted for most of the contest. It was exactly the way they wanted, especially since they travel to Miami on Tuesday. Maybe Lebron, Wade and Chalmers won’t play again? No shot.

Here are a few other notes from the win:

  • The ball movement was excellent again tonight, and led to 14 three-pointers. The Knicks shot 52% from behind the arc and allowed them to build the lead and put the Celtics away. The Knicks have shot extremely well from 3 during this winning streak, and is coming from the crisp ball movement and spacing; the keys to an efficient Knick offense.
  • Raymond Felton had a solid game tonight, despite having only four assists. He hit 3 three pointers and scored 18 points in total. The addition of Pablo Prigioni to the starting lineup continued to be effective with the two point guards. Prigioni dished out five assists, and Kidd off the bench because of the change is doing a lot of little things for the second unit.
  • Steve Novak took more two point shots than three pointers tonight. That has to be the first time that’s happened.

 

Game Preview: Hawks at Knicks 1/27

 

Hawks (25-18)  at    Knicks (26-15)

The only real positives that could be taken out of the Knicks beating to the Sixers in Philly last night is that they have to have a short memory and bounce back today. The Knicks return home after a couple of Atlantic Division road games to take on the Hawks, who currently sit in sixth place in the East, two games behind the Knicks.

After a gutsy and much needed victory over the Celtics on Thursday night, the Knicks laid an egg in Philadelphia last night. They lost to the lowly Sixers 97-80 in a game where the ‘Bockers seemed to be indifferent. It was the return of Raymond Felton to the lineup but that didn’t spark much as the Knicks couldn’t knock down any open shots. It was the first time we caught a glimpse of the Felton-Kidd-Shump-Melo-Chandler lineup, but it looked rusty as expected with Felton and Shumpert still working themselves back.

A bright spot from the game in Philly was Amar’e Stoudemire’s play off the bench. After scoring 15 points against Brooklyn and then Boston, STAT dropped in 20 against the Sixers. Even though Melo outscored him as he poured in 25 points, Stoudemire was the Knicks lone bright spot offensively last night. His improvement from game to game, not only offensively but he has been been more aggressive on the glass and on defense, is something that is encouraging going forward for the Knicks.

One thing that isn’t encouraging is the shooting slump that J.R. Smith has found himself in. His field-goal percentage has dropped to under 40% on the season, and he seems to be lost offensively recently. Smith went 0-8 from the field last night and didn’t score a single point. That followed a 3-16 performance against the Celtics, a 7-19 performance against the Nets, a 6-15 shooting night in London against the Pistons, and a dismal 3-11 shooting against the Hornets. It has been a real tough stretch for Smith who many people believed should have been an all-star. J.R needs to regain his shooting stroke and stop forcing up awful shots in transition and the half court. I think he gets it going again today, starting on the defensive end to get himself an easy bucket.

Felton looked rusty last night, but at least we saw one Felton to Chandler alley-oop that we became so accustomed to seeing. The Knicks host the Hawks today who have won three straight games, including a 27-point comeback against the Celtics the other night. The Knicks have beaten the Hawks four of the past five meetings, and need to get back on track against them today. The key will be keeping the Hawks off the boards who are led by Al Horford, Josh Smith and ZaZa Pachulia. The Knicks have been improving their rebounding on the defensive end over the past few weeks, and as weird as it sounds, Stoudemire has helped provide some rebounding help.

The Hawks leading scorer is the versatile Josh Smith who averages 16.9 points per game, but the more important defensive matchup for the Knicks is Felton on Jeff Teague. Even before the injury the Knicks and Felton had trouble keeping the opposing point guard out of the point. Last night was a prime example as Jrue Holiday did whatever he wanted en route to scoring 35 points in the blowout. Teague is another extremely quick point guard who can get in the paint and cause havoc. Teague averages 13.4 points and 6.7 assists per game, and the Knicks need to keep him in check today.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

Game Preview 12/17: Rockets at Knicks

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for. Well, not really, but it is the long awaited return of Linsanity to the Mecca, the arena where Jeremy Lin became a house hold name practically overnight. Lin has struggled mightily this season though, averaging less than 11 points and 6 assists per game, to go along with his abysmal field-goal percentage (under 40%). The backcourt tandem of Lin and Harden has been questioned because of their styles of play and has left many wondering if they don’t click well. It hasn’t effected James Harden however, as he is averaging 25 points per game, the fifth most in the league.

This game is a lot bigger for the Knicks then Jeremy Lin’s return, as they should have some revenge on their mind. The last time these two teams got together the Knicks got ran out of the gym, giving up 131 points to the Rockets in Houston en route to a 28-point blowout, by far the Knicks worst defeat of the year. In that game Harden had 33 and Chandler Parsons added 31, and in the wise words of Bart Scott, the Knicks couldn’t stop a nose bleed. The Rockets knocked down 14 of 25 threes, something the Knicks cannot allow to happen again. The Knicks have gone 10-2 since that game, and have allowed 100 points in only four of those last 12 games. Their three-point shooting and lack of turnovers has been the catalyst all season, and could be tonight as well.

The Rockets allow opponents to shoot 38.9% from behind the arc, the fourth highest in the league according to HoopData.com. The Knicks shoot over 40% from downtown and lead the league in 3-point rate. The Rockets are just behind the Knicks in 3-point rate, so be prepared to see a lot of three-pointers tonight from both teams. With Carmelo Anthony questionable with a sprained ankle, the three-point shot will again be huge for the Knicks. Both Harden and Lin like to get out in transition, so the Knicks transition defense will be crucial tonight. The Rockets average 16.8 fast break points a game, and the Knicks need to make sure they get back on defense and force the Rockets to beat them in the half-court game. As we saw when he played in New York, Lin is susceptible to turnovers in the half court and could allow the Knicks to get out into their own fast breaks.

Keeping Omer Asik in check tonight will fall on Tyson Chandler. Asik killed the Knicks last meeting with 18 and 14, and is averaging over 11 boards a game on the season. With Rasheed Wallace likely out again, Chandler’s interior defense and rebounding will be essential to limiting Asik’s effectiveness.

Tonight will mark the return of another former Knick point guard, Toney Douglas. Douglas played well for a brief time a couple years ago and was the Knicks starting point guard against the Celtics in the playoff series, but seemed to regress significantly last season. Douglas was a part of the deal that brought Marcus Camby back to the Knicks, and has played pretty well for the Rockets this season.  He is averaging over 10 points per game over his last 10 games in 22+ minutes. The hard-working point guard was pretty much ran out of New York at the end of last season, and has found a decent fit with the Rockets.

This is a huge game for the Knicks even without the return of Jeremy Lin. That is the last thing on the Knicks’ minds as they want to avenge their worst loss of the season. Raymond Felton told reporters this morning that they owe the Rockets something, and I expect them to come out firing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029