PORTLAND -- Ronny Turiaf's defense against LaMarcus Aldridge was a big part of the Knicks' 100-86 win over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, but this game turned on the mood swing of Raymond Felton. The Knicks had a poor start after the half and it allowed the Blazers to take the lead, but then Felton seemed to set the tone with an aggressive mentality at both ends of the floor and it sparked a 15-3 run that put the Knicks back in control.
"I was determined not to lose this game," Felton said.
It showed in how he played through what Mike D'Antoni called a high-ankle sprain, which Felton suffered in the third when he fell while fighting for a rebound. He said the ankle was "sore" after the game but quickly added, "I'm all right. I'll be ready tomorrow no matter what."
Of course he will. Felton will be going up against Deron Williams, a fellow Class of 2005 point guard just like Chris Paul, on Wednesday night in Utah for the final game of this four-game West Coast trip. Felton's 17 points and 14 assists, by the way, gave him 17 double-doubles on the season, which ties him with Paul and Williams for the second-most double-doubles among all NBA guards. Steve Nash leads the league with 19.
But more impressive than the double-double was the single digit number he had in the turnovers category. That would be zero. His 14 assists/0 turnover performance matched a franchise best, which had been done five times in franchise history by four other men. Mark Jackson did it twice and Doc Rivers and Jim Cleamons each did it once.
Turiaf raved about a player he referred to as "my little general, my midget general."
"With him, we're on the same page at all times," Turiaf said of Felton. "He directs traffic, in a sense, and my job is 10 times easier when somebody tells me what to do. I like to follow orders. He's my little general. My midget general. And I really enjoy playing with him."
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* - Your daily Melopalooza update: As we reported in today's Newsday, the Knicks have been quietly working on putting together a package, and seeking assistance from another team, to jump into the Carmelo Anthony trade talks if things fall apart between the Nuggets and the Nets. As we told you in a Fix post over the weekend, Amar'e absolutely does want Carmelo as a teammate in New York. According to a report by Yahoo! Sports, Stoudemire recently sent a text message to Carmelo to let him know he is wanted in New York. The plan the two discussed in the summer about teaming up in New York to take on the Big Threes in Miami and Boston remains a top priority for Stoudemire, according to a person close to him, but he is not publicly campaigning for it out of respect to both his teammates and to Donnie Walsh. Recall his words to me on Monday when I asked him directly if the plan still was to acquire another star: "No question, absolutely." Shortly afterward, when he heard that Carmelo made a remark that the Knicks were doing well and he didn't think they wanted him to come in and mess up the chemistry -- "That's what I've read," he added -- Stoudemire sent him the message.
* - Lynn Merritt, Nike's VP of Global Basketball Sports Marketing whose office is at the Nike campus in nearby Beaverton, attended the game. Stoudemire mentioned on Monday that his Nike deal was due to expire at the end of this season. With Chinese sneaker companies swooping in to sign several top players away from the big American sneaker companies -- Kevin Garnett left Adidas for ANTA and Steve Nash just left Nike for Luyou -- could Amar'e be the next? He's been a big part of their commercial campaigns before and, being in New York and playing like an MVP candidate this season, Nike certainly has to want to keep Stoudemire on the Nike Basketball team.
* - A year ago the Knicks were hoping for a shot at signing free agent-to-be Marcus Camby in the summer and he spoke wistfully about making a return to the Garden as a Knick. All of us ate it up and spit it back out in glowing stories about a possible coup, only to hear days later that Camby signed a two-year extension with the Trail Blazers. Good use of the media by Marcus, who, with rumors of a possible roster shake-up in Portland, says he wants to retire a Trail Blazer. Scratch him off the list as potential targets of the Knicks in their search for a starting center, Portland isn't looking to trade him.
* - That's now 11 tech's for Amar'e, which ties him with Dwight Howard for the league lead. He was hit with this one after he clapped his hands in a show of bravado after Shawne Williams' rugged rebound put-back in the first quarter. Apparently, only fans are allowed to clap at NBA games. Five more and he earns a suspension. Hold your applause.
* - On to Utah, where Deron Williams awaits. Is it too soon to ask him about 2012? The Knicks were so much easier to cover when they didn't have cap space.