Felton almost makes up for lost Smith

Felton almost makes up for lost Smith
April 28, 2013, 6:15 pm
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BOSTON — Before the opening tipoff of the game, the Celtics found themselves with a bigger advantage than they had all series.

J.R. Smith had been suspended for Game 4 after a vicious elbow to the head of Jason Terry in the fourth quarter of Game 3, and the Knicks would be forced to find production elsewhere.

They did - in the form of Raymond Felton - but it wasn't enough in the end, as the C's outlasted the Knicks in overtime, 97-90.

With Boston up by 20 points in the third quarter, nobody expected an overtime in the first place. But Felton poured it on Boston, scoring 16 points that quarter (the Celtics as a team scored 14 that quarter) and the Knicks trailed by just three points entering the fourth quarter.

"Melo (Carmelo Anthony) is going to score his points no matter what," Felton said. "Somebody had to try to pick up the slack so I tried to be a little bit more aggressive especially in the second half."

On the night, Felton scored 27 points, largely playing the role of Smith as Anthony's right-hand man.

"Well he's played pretty good for us all year, I think," Woodson said. "He had the great start for us at the beginning of the season, then he got hurt, and we struggled as a team because of it. He came back and he's been playing pretty well ever since. He's had a damn good playoffs so far. We've got to go home now, and keep playing well to help us win."

Felton is averaging 17.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in the postseason through the first four games. But while Felton did step up in Smith's absence, it was clear that Felton, Anthony and the rest of the Knicks needed Smith out there.

"I found out about [the suspension] late [Saturday]," Anthony said. "Of course it put a damper into a lot of our plans. We were looking forward to having him in this game today, but we didn't. Guys that played stepped up and put us in a position to try to win the basketball game. We missed J.R., we look forward to having him back, and it'll be an even tougher game come Wednesday."

As good as Felton was during the game, like the rest of his team, he didn't do much in overtime. It's at those points in the game where a guy like Smith can really be counted on.

"J.R. was definitely missed today," Felton said. "You got a guy who's the second-leading scorer on our team. He's averaging over 18 points a game. He's a guy who hits tough, big shots for us down the stretch. So we definitely missed him definitely today offensively for sure."

Don't look at Knicks coach Mike Woodson to offer up Smith's absence as the reason the two teams are heading back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5.

"Well I'm not using that as an excuse," Woodson said. "We had enough tonight. I thought our guys competed and did what they were supposed to do, to get back in the game and give us a chance at the end to win it. But we didn't make the plays coming down the home stretch, they did."

And on Wednesday, Felton hopes to continue on his superb playoff performances, and this time have Smith ready to aim and fire by his side down the stretch.