Through the first 24 minutes of Saturday’s Knicks-Bulls Christmas Day matinee, it didn’t look like Raymond Felton and Derrick Rose belonged on the same floor.
Rose finished the first half with 15 points, four assists and five rebounds, while Felton went to the locker room with four points, four assists and two turnovers.
But Felton made all the right plays in the second half, including forcing Rose into four second-half turnovers, to help the Knicks to a 103-95 win.
The first-year Knicks guard finished with 20 points, 12 assists and five steals, handing out at least ten helpers for the sixth straight game. He is three games shy of the franchise record for consecutive games with at least ten assists, set by the memorable Michael Ray Richardson from Dec. 23, 1979 – Jan. 8, 1980.
Afterward, Felton said Amare Stoudemire’s paint presence (six blocks) allows he and Toney Douglas (two steals) to be more aggressive in pressuring the ball.
“We know that we have guys behind us that will clean it up when we make mistakes,” Felton said.
Saturday also marked Felton’s ninth 20-point, 10-assist game of the year. He entered play today second in the league behind Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who has 12 20-and-10 games. The Knicks are 12-3 when Felton records a double-double.
Wilson Chander added 10 points and seven rebounds in the decisive fourth quarter. He also blocked a shot, one of ten for the Knicks. Chandler finished with 15 and 10 overall, his fifth double-double of the season. He had four all of last year.
“Both offensively and defensively, (Chandler) was huge (in the fourth quarter),” D’Antoni said.
ROSE ROUGHED UP: Stoudemire and Rose exchanged a few words after Stoudemire fouled Rose hard at the rim in the first quarter. Rose also seemed to acknowledge Stoudemire after the Knicks’ center blocked his shot at the rim. Things got a little more heated between the two stars with seven minutes to go in the fourth when Stoudemire elbowed Rose and they got tangled at the end of a Rose drive to the basket.
"That's basketball," he told reporters in the Bulls locker room. “We got heated up for a minute, but it's nothing more than that."
BEAT-A-BULL: The Knicks are 18-12 for the first time since 2000-2001, the last year they won a playoff game. Only six of their 18 wins have come against teams who entered play Saturday with a record above .500. Two of those wins came against the Bulls.
“That’s real important because we’re chasing them,” D’Antoni said. “One thing is that we play them three games and we’ve won two so we get the tie-breaker now. That helps. It’s just a little thing but there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”