Commentary

Toney Douglas outplays Wall, Arenas

The Knicks' second-year guard stole the show, leading his team over the Wizards

Updated: November 6, 2010, 9:17 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- By now, perhaps, you thought you'd be reading about Amare Stoudemire every night. And you probably thought you'd be reading about a New York Knicks team struggling through its first 10 games, trying to establish an identity with so many new faces.

[+] EnlargeToney Douglas
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe unheralded Toney Douglas has had two outstanding games in a row for the Knicks.

Well, that ain't quite the case.

The Knicks are good enough to be over .500 (3-2), they're deep enough that we could give you chapter and verse about how important Stoudemire's supporting cast was in Friday night's 112-91 victory over the Washington Wizards, and they're actually getting kind of fun to watch.

Yes, fun to watch. And not in a train-wreck sort of way, which was the only thing that made them consistently interesting over the better part of the past decade.

Gilbert Arenas' comeback and John Wall's Madison Square Garden debut were reduced to subplots barely worth mentioning as Toney Douglas stole the show (and the ball, five times) with a series of back-breaking clutch defensive plays. Douglas' defense backed up a sturdy line of 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, making him one of six Knicks to score in double-figures as New York completed a 2-0 sweep of its back-to-back set against Chicago and Washington.

Whenever the Wizards tried to rally, the guy who kept stopping them was Douglas. He had three 3s in the first half, then in the third quarter came up with a steal of an inbounds pass and a breakaway layup after Washington had cut a 13-point deficit to seven. After the Wizards later got within four, 77-73, he had a driving layup, then another steal leading to a two-on-one break, which ended with him feeding Wilson Chandler for a layup to help New York take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Bill Walker's two momentum-killing dunks in the fourth were big, too, but it was Douglas who slammed the door by coming up with his fifth steal with 2:18 left for a breakaway layup that made it 106-91.

"We're playing hard, playing together and being coachable. It starts on defense, and our game plan tonight was to make sure we got back in transition defense, and our defense would feed our offense, and that's what happened tonight," Douglas said.

But Douglas' steals (it should be noted that Wall had nine of them in the Wizards' previous game, an overtime victory over Philadelphia, but zero against New York) were not just a product of him getting back in transition. He picked the right times to gamble, and like a blackjack player who doubles his bets when he feels a hot streak has started, Douglas kept coming up big and making the Wizards go bust.

"You anticipate a lot of players' tendencies, and I watch film and know what a lot of players do out there on the floor in certain situations, so that's how sometimes I get steals," Douglas said, adding that two of his five steals were purely the result of the homework he did to prepare for this game.

Other positives:

  • After racking up 25 turnovers in the Knicks' first four games, Stoudemire (18 points, four blocks) kept his miscue count to two. Also, the "9" in Wall's box score line this time was in the turnover category, and he was held to just two assists over the final three quarters.

  • Danilo Gallinari's resurgence continued for a second straight night, as he made four of the Knicks' 12 3-pointers. They weren't quite as hot as they were a night earlier in Chicago (making 16 of 24), but Douglas made three of them and Felton had a pair for a Knicks team that entered the evening ranked third in the NBA, trailing only the Lakers and Warriors, for most 3-pointers made per game.

  • Raymond Felton had 10 assists for the second straight night, one of which came on a textbook pick-and-roll play with Stoudemire -- the type of play Steve Nash used to run with Stoudemire all the time, but which Felton has had difficulty executing through the preseason and the first five games of the regular season.

  • Ronny Turiaf was 4-for-4 from the field, Bill Walker was 4-for-6, Wilson Chandler was 5-for-8 and Timofey Mozgov was 3-for-4, which ads up to a mighty fine shooting percentage for bit players and bench players. Overall, New York shot 51 percent (with Anthony Randolph bringing that number down almost single-handedly, going 1-for-7).

  • The Knicks had 11 blocked shots, reaching double-figures for the second time in five games after doing it only once all of last season.

    Perhaps that Tuesday night asbestos scare was a blessing in disguise.

    Instead of possibly emerging from that game against Orlando with a 1-3 record before heading into a set of three games in three and a half days (Sunday's matchup with Philadelphia starts at noon), the Knicks got an extra two days off to further familiarize themselves with each other at practice -- a need that is especially acute for this team with 10 new faces on the roster.

    If it was a blessing, coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't going down that road. He chose the bravado route instead.

    "We'd be 4-2 right now," D'Antoni said, drawing laughs. "I think it hurt us -- and I'm sticking with that story."

    Chris Sheridan is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.

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