By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK - The way Raymond Felton sees it, the 12 games he missed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 24 with a fractured right pinkie finger were more than enough. If the 28-year-old Knicks point guard can help it, he won’t be missing any more time this season.
So, when Felton took a knee to his right pinkie from Samuel Dalembert late in the third quarter of a 96-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday evening, it didn’t take long for him to decide what his mindset was after the initial pain subsided.
“I wasn’t coming out that game, without a doubt,” Felton said after he scored 14 points and dished out eight assists. “That crossed my mind for sure with the pain (that something bad might have happened), but once I got over there, the pain kind of went away a little bit. It wasn’t gonna stop me from coming back in the game.”
Felton iced his hand once he got back to the bench and upon re-entering the game for a final time with 8:10 to play, he showed no ill-effects. Over that final 8:10, Felton shot 2-for-2 from the field, including a back-breaking 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:59 left to extend the Knicks’ lead to 10 at 87-77. He was also a key part of a superb defensive effort that held the Bucks to 13 points and 6-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Felton said he had precautionary X-rays after the game and everything came back good. He also said that he would absolutely play on Saturday evening when the Knicks host the Sacramento Kings.
“I got a pad on it, if I didn’t have that pad, there’s no telling what might’ve happened, I might’ve broke it,” Felton said. “Luckily, I had that pad on so it’s just a lot of pain. It hurts right now, but it’s something I gotta deal with. Put some ice on it, do my same treatment I normally do, get ready to play tomorrow.”
The Knicks are now 29-15 and winners of four of their last five. Since Felton returned at the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 26, they are 3-1 after going 6-6 in the 12 games Felton missed following his injury at the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.
Without Felton, the offense stagnated, often becoming isolation-heavy instead of using the pick-and-rolls that marked the team’s success early in the season. With Felton back, the Knicks can also become less reliant on Jason Kidd playing heavy minutes.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said earlier this week that he would like to have Kidd’s minutes stay in the 20-25 minutes range now that Felton is back.
“Hopefully, once I get this break after these next couple games, everything should be healed up,” Felton said. “Over the All-Star break, I get a chance to rest up and when I come back, hopefully, I don’t have to have it taped no more. We’ll see what happens.”
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