In the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 of the Celtics-Knicks series, there was one truly impressive stat:
Raymond Felton 16, Celtics 14.
Felton’s production was crucial as the Knicks came back from a 20-point deficit to head into the fourth quarter down by just 3 points. He hit on 5 of 8 shots, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
“He was huge,’’ Kenyon Martin said. “He was huge in this game for us. Especially missing J.R. [Smith], we needed someone else to make shots for us and he did that for us. Ray is a professional. He’s the ultimate competitor. And that’s what we need from him each and every night.’’
Felton finished with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting, adding 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
“He had the great start for us at the beginning of this season, then he got hurt, and we struggled as a team because of it,’’ Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “He came back and he’s been playing well ever since.
“He’s had a damn good playoffs so far.’’
Felton, in fact, has been playing some of his best basketball in the playoffs, including a 15-point, 10-assist performance in Game 3. In Game 4, a 97-90 Celtics victory, it was his ability to get in the lane and make shots that was the difference between a blowout loss and helping to force overtime, even though the Knicks eventually lost.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve been able to do this whole series is really get inside the paint,’’ Felton said. “Between me, Pablo [Prigioni], [Jason] Kidd, [Iman Shumpert], we were able to get inside the lane and try to make things happen and try to get easy shots for everybody else.’’
In the end, though, it was the shots that Felton took that made the biggest impact.
“Raymond always plays big for us,’’ Shumpert said. “Always making plays, always finding open guys. It didn’t surprise me that he had such a big game. That’s what Raymond does.’’
Tyson Chandler had 11 rebounds for the Knicks, including five offensive.
The center looked far better than he has in the series, with his conditioning clearly back up to speed after he dealt with a bulging disk in his neck. The Knicks had 16 offensive rebounds to the Celtics’ three. “I’m starting to get my legs back,’’ Chandler said. “I felt real lively.’’ Added Felton, “Tyson is starting to look great. He got us a lot of key extra possessions down the stretch to really keep us in the game. That’s going to be big for us.’’ . . . The Knicks were without Smith after he was suspended for elbowing Jason Terry in Game 3. But Woodson wouldn’t attribute the loss to being without the team’s second-leading scorer. “We didn’t make the plays coming down the homestretch, they did,’’ he said. “J.R. is a big piece of what we do, but he wasn’t here, so I’m not using that as an excuse.’’