Raymond Felton has spent most of his season reminding us why he was the perfect choice — really, the only choice — to fill the void left by the departure of Jeremy Lin. The two men might have posted similar numbers this season — Lin: 13.4 points, 6.1 assists and 44 percent shooting; Felton: 13.9 points, 5.5 assists, 43 percent.

But it was Felton’s toughness, his willingness to grit his teeth through a variety of aches and pains and bumps and bruises, that re-endeared him to New York City. Lin famously kept himself out of the playoffs last year as a Knick, and then wound up on the sidelines again this postseason in Houston. Maybe he sat legitimately, maybe not.

But mostly, Felton played, and has played, and that’s mattered, especially for most of these playoffs. Felton was as big a reason as Carmelo Anthony that the Knicks prevailed against the Celtics, and he was having a good series against the Pacers until he sprained his ankle late in Game 2 and missed the whole fourth quarter.

In Game 3, whether it was the ankle or simply one of those nights, Felton had, well, one of those nights. And it cost the Knicks, cost them badly, and provided a reminder of just how essential a piece he is to what the Knicks do and who they are.

“He’s been pretty solid throughout the playoffs for us,” said Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who doles out individual praise with an eye-dropper, so that qualifies as a full-on gush. “I’m looking at that as a game when he just didn’t have it. We didn’t have it either, as a team.”