Raymond Felton waited two years for this moment, two years to be in a big playoff game at Madison Square Garden, two years to be a starter on a team that has a chance to go somewhere.
So, after the Knicks struggled through the first half of Game 2 of their first-round playoff game against the Boston Celtics, Felton knew that as the point guard, it was his responsibility to get this team going, to find a way to put points on the board despite the Celtics' defense doing its best to shut down Carmelo Anthony.
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Felton totaled 16 points in the Knicks' 87-71 win Tuesday night, the most important of which were the two that came on a driving layup that made the score 52-50 in the middle of the third quarter and gave the Knicks the lead for good.
"He changed the game,'' coach Mike Woodson said of Felton. "We are going to need him to do that . . . We got stops and Raymond did a great job of really pushing it and getting us into something. The ball moved side to side and we got into the seams and guys were able to make shots.''
Said Felton: "I think everyone knew what we had to do to get the lead, keep the lead and win the game.''
Statwise, it wasn't an overwhelming quarter for Felton -- he had six points, two rebounds and two assists -- yet he penetrated well, found the open man and did all the little things the Knicks needed to get things going. He also did some pretty big things, like contain Paul Pierce, the Celtics' best player.
The Knicks outscored the Celtics 32-11 in the quarter after trailing by six at halftime. Pierce, who played all 12 minutes of the quarter, went 2-for-5 for five points, with one turnover.
"They attacked us and we didn't handle it very well,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It was a tale of two halves and it really was disappointing for us.''
It was a thrilling win for Felton and the Knicks, who will take a 2-0 lead to Boston for Friday's Game 3. It especially means something to Felton, who had hoped to be going to the playoffs two years ago with the Knicks but was traded to Denver. After enduring a playoff-less season with Portland last year, Felton returned to the Knicks and is back in the place he always wanted to be.
"This is one of the best places to play basketball,'' Felton said. "It's the intensity and the fans and how much they get involved in the game. I was definitely sad and upset a little when I left the first time. Things happen, I'm back and I'm loving every moment of it.''