Raymond Felton must rebound against Blazers' Lillard
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The optimist would say Raymond Felton has a big opportunity Wednesday night against Portland, that he has a chance to make everyone forget his poor performance against the Bucks by having a respectable game against Damian Lillard.
The pessimist would say that because Felton was schooled Monday night by Brandon Knight, he has little chance of slowing Lillard, an All-Star point guard.
And Raymond Felton would say . . . Well, no one quite knows what Felton would say. The Knicks' point guard hasn't talked with reporters since Knight shot a three-pointer over him with 1.4 seconds left to give the Bucks a 101-98 win. He didn't speak after the game or after practice Tuesday.
Mike Woodson, who believed his team was starting to put it together when it won four of five heading into Milwaukee, was frustrated enough after the loss to say "he had to get Raymond going."
After practice, however, Woodson would not single out anyone. "You just can't blame it on the point guards," he said. "It's everybody's play. It's been coaching. We're all in this together and we have to figure it out together."
And figure it out fast. With 34 games left, the Knicks are 10 games under .500 (19-29) and seven behind first-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division.
Against the Bucks, Felton shot 1-for-7 and made two bad defensive plays in the final minute. Judging from the harsh reaction on sports-talk radio and Twitter, it appears as if Felton has become the fall guy for the Knicks' disappointing season. Felton's scoring has dropped from 13.9 points a game last season to 10.4. More telling is that the Knicks, who averaged 100 points last season, are averaging 96.9.
Felton received a lot of the blame in Portland two years ago when he struggled. The Knicks signed him to replace Jeremy Lin, and he ended up being a big factor in their 54-win season. He had a difficult time, however, last March when Lillard, whom Portland drafted to replace Felton, had 26 points and 10 assists in the Blazers' 105-90 win.
Felton is not the only Knick whose performance has dipped from last season, and Woodson said after practice that everyone is accountable.
"I'm not pointing the fingers at anybody," he said. "If I'm going to point it at anybody, I'll always point it at myself first as the coach, because I feel like I can take any team, any five guys, and win. That's just how I feel as a coach."
Notes & quotes: Amar'e Stoudemire said he's ready to play more minutes, beginning against Portland. Said Stoudemire: "I feel great. I'm ready to play. But it's up to him [Woodson] if he wants me to play or not." After missing seven games with an ankle injury, Stoudemire played four minutes and scored two points in the loss to Miami on Saturday. In Milwaukee, Stoudemire played 17 minutes and had seven points and four rebounds.