Knicks point guard Elfrid Payton scored 20 points on a strong 9-of-12 shooting effort in the team’s 111-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. He found ways to the rim all night long, making defenders miss while finishing contested shots.
“Just try to find different seams and cracks, that’s something I’ve been doing my whole career,” Payton said. “Just trying to get in the paint, find new space or make it for myself.”
Over his seven-year NBA career, Payton has usually been the one with the ball in his hands as a lead guard role. But with ball dominant teammates like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett on the court, Payton has figured out how to still be effective on offense.
“Yeah definitely different, but I think I do a good job adjusting, we’ve been playing well, doing well this season, just rolling with it,” Payton said.
After the win, head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about Payton’s effort on the court, and how important that was for the Knicks while going up against a championship-caliber team in the Lakers.
“I thought our starters really set the tone, I thought Elfrid [Payton] was terrific,” Thibodeau said. “I think Elfrid and Nerlens [Noel] are sort of the unsung heroes, they add a lot to our team. Julius [Randle] stepped up and had a monster game again, making big shots. They’re tough, they’re a hard playing team, they have good veterans. You let your guard down for a second and they can come back on you. Very well coached, lot of depth on that team.”
Payton and Noel helped the Knicks force 25 turnovers by the Lakers, and holding them to 43.8 percent shooting from the field
The Knicks will travel and play the New Orleans Pelican on Wednesday, giving Payton a chance to visit home and see family. The guard was born in Gretna, LA. and played college ball at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He was asked about playing against the Pelicans and their young star Zion Williamson.
“It’s always good to go home, always good to see family, excited about that,” Payton said. “Excited for the challenge, he poses a lot of different threats on the court, but I have no doubt we’ll be prepared and ready to stop him.”
Payton acknowledged that New Orleans will always be home to the Saints, but made it clear that the city appreciates its NBA team and sees a bright future for them with Williamson.
“No, it’s always gonna be gonna be a Saints’ city,” Payton said. “But people that love the Pelicans, they always did. Even before Zion, they loved the Pelicans. Hopefully Zion plays the rest of his career there, but if he don’t, they’re still gonna love the Pelicans. I think that’s a bad rep the city gets, that they don’t like the Pelicans, that they’re not excited about the Pelicans. They love them.”