Commentary

Felton failing to make All-Star case

With trip to L.A. at stake, Knicks point guard struggling at worst possible time

Updated: February 3, 2011, 9:50 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- If Raymond Felton gets an invite to the All-Star Game, he certainly didn't earn it with his play against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

[+] EnlargeRaymond Felton
Nicole Sweet/US PresswireRaymond Felton has to hope coaches have been too busy filling out their All-Star ballots to keep a close eye on him lately.

The point guard finished with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting as the New York Knicks were manhandled by the Mavs in a 113-97 blowout loss.

After the game, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni suggested Felton has been bothered by a hand injury he suffered against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 15.

But Felton didn't want to use the injury as a defense for what he did (or didn't do) against Dallas.

"I'm battling an injury but I'm out there on the court, so there's no excuse," he said.

Felton is likely battling guards Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Joe Johnson for a reserve spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad. The remaining seven spots are voted on by the coaches, with the results announced Thursday.

No coach can vote for his own player, but you have to wonder if Felton would even get a vote from D'Antoni after his inconsistent play recently.

Felton, who seemed like a strong candidate for an All-Star spot in late December, has done plenty of damage to his candidacy over the past five weeks, the latest example being his sub-par night against Dallas.

At times in 2011, Felton has been as icy as Manhattan street corners in this particularly cold winter. He's shot under 40 percent in 12 of the Knicks' past 16 games. He's reached his season average (17.2 points per game) just six times since Jan. 2, when he went off for 28 points against the Spurs.

His scoring average has dipped by a full point since then and his assist average has also taken a hit.

"His hand is still bothering him, swollen up pretty good," D'Antoni said. "But I just don't think it makes a difference. Obviously, it would be nice to hit all his shots, but we have to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end and get into people and want it a little bit more than them."

Making matters worse on Wednesday, Felton's Dallas counterparts, Jose Juan Barea and Jason Kidd, outscored him 15-2 during the Mavs' decisive 26-6 run early in the third quarter. To be fair, both Barea and Kidd were on the floor at the same time. But Felton's missed layup with 9:53 to go in the third -- early in the Mavs' run -- could have pulled the Knicks within four. Three minutes later, they were down 15. Less than three minutes later, the Knicks trailed by 24.

"We get down on a team like that, [24] points, it's tough," Felton said. "They're one of the best teams in the league, one of the best teams in the West, so it's hard to come back on a team like that."

Like a politician stumbling as Election Day approaches, Felton's played his worst at the worst possible time as he attempts to make his first All-Star team.

He seems to be nonchalant about the opportunity.

"We'll see what happens," Felton said. "If I'm there, great. If I'm not, great. Life still goes on."

If he gets the nod Thursday, the coaches voting for him likely would have ignored what they saw from Felton on Wednesday night and the weeks before it.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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