He struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness early in the season and was arrested on felony gun charges late last month. With all the trouble swirling around him, the point guard was just 7 for 32 in the five games since his arrest.
Felton broke out of his slump with 18 points and Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points to help the Knicks snap a seven-game losing streak with a 118-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
"If you're not there mentally, it can really mess you up," said Felton, who made 5 of 8 shots and also had eight assists and four steals. "But I'm not one to make excuses. I got a lot going on, but there's a lot of people in this world that are dealing with a lot. I can't make that excuse."
Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 14 rebounds and Amare Stoudemire added 18 points and eight boards for the Knicks, who had not won since beating New Orleans on Feb. 19.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson had a long chat with Felton on Tuesday, trying to gauge how focused his point guard was on the court with so much to deal with off it.
"I wasn't going to take him out of the lineup, but I wanted to make sure that his head was in the right place for playing," Woodson said. "We just have to continue to help him and get him through this process."
Kevin Love had 19 points and eight rebounds, but scored just one point in the second half as the Timberwolves returned from a successful West Coast road trip with a thud. Kevin Martin had 12 points on 3-for-10 shooting and the Wolves were 7 for 26 from 3-point range.
"We can't give in and say that this is a killer," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "I know everybody's going to say that you can't lose to the Knicks, it's a killer. ... We just have to go out and beat Detroit (on Friday). We lost this game. It's not going to be perfect. I don't worry about this being really damaging. I worry about the way we played."
Timberwolves coaches had quietly worried about opening a homestand against a team that had been playing so poorly, fearing that the breakout was coming. They were right.
The Knicks hit eight of their first 10 field goals Wednesday night and went 5 for 7 from 3-point range to open a 38-24 lead after one quarter. The lead swelled to 17 points in the second quarter as New York chewed up Minnesota's soft interior defense with pick-and-roll lobs to Chandler, a staple of their 54 victories last year.
After such a flat first half, Ricky Rubio and the Wolves came alive in the third quarter, methodically carving into the Knicks' lead. Nikola Pekovic asserted himself in the paint against Stoudemire and an emboldened Rubio scored nine points in the quarter to cut the deficit to 88-86 going into the fourth.
But Pekovic had to sit out most of the fourth quarter because of a minutes restriction placed on him to reduce the wear and tear on a sore ankle that kept him out for most of February.
"It's really frustrating because you're trying to win games, you're trying to stay relevant and everything," Adelman said. "He had it going that third quarter. We had it going with him on the floor and I had to take him out. It's just something we have to live with, but it's really hard."
Anthony and Stoudemire led a 15-2 charge to start the fourth quarter that sealed the victory. Felton hit Tim Hardaway Jr. for a soaring alley-oop moments later for a 107-92 lead.
"Even though I'm dealing with a lot of stuff off the court, I got a lot to play for right now," Felton said. "I just tried to clear my head tonight, come out and play, and have fun. This is a place where I can come and just be free."
Pekovic finished with 17 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes and Rubio had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Wolves. ... New York's 66 points were its second-highest first half output of the season. ... J.R. Smith added 14 points, five assists and five rebounds for the Knicks.
- Jason Phillips
- Matt Boland
- Bennie Adams