Point guard play reason for Knicks success
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – When Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni discussed the Christmas Day showdown against the New York Knicks on Tuesday morning, it came as no surprise that he went out of his way to credit a point guard with a team’s renewed success. The unexpected part was that he was talking about his old team rather than his new one.
For all the focus on the return of Steve Nash and what it means for D’Antoni’s Lakers, he credited the Knicks’ additions of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd during the offseason as major reasons for all the success that has come after he left. The Knicks were 18-6 under coach Mike Woodson after D’Antoni resigned in March and entered Tuesday’s game with the league’s fourth-best record at 20-7.
“Adding Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, two point guards, I thought that was great to be able to do it,” said D’Antoni, whose Lakers entered 13-14 but who didn’t have Nash in the regular season until Saturday because of a left leg injury. “(Pablo) Prigioni (a 35-year-old rookie who was a star in Spain before coming over this season) is also good. Any time you have really good point guard play, you take a big step forward when you have that.”
D’Antoni knows perhaps better than anyone else how crucial good point guard play can be, not only because of his memorable years with Nash in Phoenix but because of last season’s experience with Jeremy Lin and the ‘Linsanity’ explosion. The Knicks landed Felton in a trade with Portland in July, then opted against matching Lin’s three-year, $25.1 million restricted free agent offer from Houston. They signed Kidd signed as a free agent for three years and $9 million.
Felton, who struggled so mightily last season for the Trail Blazers and admitted to being out of shape in the lockout-shortened campaign, is averaging 16 points and 6.3 assists. The 39-year-old Kidd is averaging 29.4 minutes, 8.2 points, and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range. D’Antoni, who left the Knicks in large part because of Carmelo Anthony’s lack of willingness … [For more on Point guard play is reason for Knicks success: D'Antoni, click here.]