Raymond Felton does everything he can to make up for J.R. Smith's absence
BOSTON - Turns out Raymond Felton is capable of a pretty good J.R. Smith impersonation.
With Smith suspended for Game 4 of the Knicks' first-round series against the Celtics Sunday, Felton stepped up his scoring, putting on an impressive long-distance shooting display during a furious third-quarter comeback.
Felton scored 16 of his 27 points in the third quarter after the Celtics took a 59-39 lead, hitting a 26-foot three-pointer with two-tenths of a second left in the quarter to cut the Knicks' deficit to three.
The Knicks wound up losing in overtime, 97-90, but several of his teammates credited Felton for putting them in position to win.
"Somebody had to try to pick up the slack, so I tried to be a little bit more aggressive, especially in the second half," Felton said. "J.R. was definitely missed today. He's our second- leading scorer."
Felton answered the coach's call more than anyone else, shooting 10-for-21, including 4-for-9 from outside the arc. The rest of the Knicks shot 30 percent (21-for-69).
Felton's presence was felt most during a pivotal stretch when the game was close to getting away from the Knicks. He scored 16 points in the final 7:12 of the third quarter, two more than the Celtics scored as a team in the quarter.
His long three-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer pulled the Knicks within 68-65, and his teammates enthusiastically rushed off the bench to greet a fired-up Felton after the buzzer.
"He was huge in this game for us," Kenyon Martin said. "Especially missing J.R., we needed someone else to make shots for us, and he did that for us."
Felton missed a 25-foot three-pointer 26 seconds into the fourth quarter, then abandoned his shot altogether, instead focusing on getting the ball to Carmelo Anthony.
Proud point guard that he is, Felton wasn't about to apologize for that strategy.
"I was able to get in the paint and hit some big shots, but when the game is on the line, you're going to give the ball to No. 7," he said. "That's what we've been doing all year, and there's no need to change it now."