NEW YORK — “It’s gonna be a minute, guys, my hand is messed up.”
That’s what Raymond Felton said as he glanced over toward me after the Knicks’ 106-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. Those weren’t the first words anyone expected to hear from Felton, considered he turned in arguably his best game of the season.
Felton shot 10-for-17, including 3-for-6 from behind the arc and scored 23 points. He also chipped in seven assists. What was more impressive than what Felton did, though, was what he didn’t do.
Despite playing 39 minutes, Felton finished up with zero turnovers.
Afterward, I asked Felton about taking care of the ball. “That’s something we always want to do, each and every night,” he said. “We wanna take care of the ball, we wanna force other teams to turn the ball over and not turn it over ourselves.”
As a team, the Knicks turned the ball over just eight times and the Suns got just 10 points off of them. Conversely, they forced the Suns to commit 17 turnovers and from that, the Knicks got 23 points. No team in the NBA takes care of the ball as well as the Knicks, who lead the league in fewest turnovers per game with 11.4.
According to Felton, the thumb wasn’t doing very well. “It’s swollen right now, it’s in a lot of pain, but we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m going to the doctor now, going to get an MRI and see what’s going on.” Afterward, the Knicks released a statement saying Felton had a bone bruise and a contusion, and was listed as day-to-day.
When asked how the injury occurred, Felton seemed unsure. “It got jammed between another player, and I don’t know, just a lot of pain,” he said.
Already playing without Iman Shumpert, Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Kidd, the last thing the Knicks need is for Felton to be forced to miss time. Fortunately for the Knicks, the injury is to Felton’s left hand, and he’s right handed. Even still, Felton couldn’t say whether or not the injury was serious, but he also didn’t say that it was something he thought he could play through.
“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t miss any time,” he said. But now, it’s up to the Knicks training staff.
The Knicks lost consecutive games to the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23, respectively. It was the first time that the club lost consecutive regular-season games under Mike Woodson.
Since then, though, the Knicks have won four of their last five games, with the sole loss coming at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets back on Nov. 26.
Now at 12-4, the Knicks are once again atop the NBA’s Atlantic Division, arguably the toughest in the league. Entering play on Sunday, the division had four teams—the Knicks, Nets, Celtics and Sixers—who had winning records. No other division in the league has more than two.