Knicks’ Lin Sets Career Highs In Leading Knicks To Win Over Nets

Published on: 5th February, 2012

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Jeremy Lin
Knicks' Lin Sets Career Highs In Leading Knicks To Win Over Nets  | read this item

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New York — The Knicks have been searching for the formula that could turn around what has, thus far been a dismal season with rumors flying about coach Mike D’Antoni’s job status. Tonight, D’Antoni may have found the saving grace that could keep him on the Knicks bench and his name is Jeremy Lin.

Who?

Lin, a second-year NBA player with little actual playing time logged and just two weeks from having been on an NBA Development League roster, put on the show of his life tonight against the New Jersey Nets and their superstar point guard, Deron Williams, in particular, in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd that has been begging for a reason to cheer since the season began last month.

You couldn’t have written a better story than Lin provided tonight. The facts that make him an extraordinary NBA underdog come flying out of him. He’s slightly built, a Harvard College graduate (decidedly not a basketball factory), of Asian descent, and has been cut by two teams in his spotty two-year NBA career. Yet, D’Antoni, desperate for some production from the point guard position, turned to this quiet kid and practically said, “kid, go out and beat Deron Williams tonight and take us to a win.”

And, that’s exactly what the kid did. He put up an astounding 25 points, on 10 of 19 shooting from the field to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. He was, by far, the most dominant player on the court. In a game populated by multi-millionaire basketball players like the Nets’ Williams, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony, the NBA minimum salary-earner, Lin, pumped life into the Knicks on offense by introducing dribble penetration and the pick and roll back into their repertoire while playing on-the-ball defense in a way these parts had not seen from a point guard in many a day. .

Lin, whose previous high game as a pro was 13 points as a Golden State Warrior in 2010 also set career highs for assists (7), minutes (35), field goals made (10), and field goals attempted (19).

“I was playing hard basically,” said Lin. “The starters played hard for the third night in a row. Jared (Jeffries), Tyson (Chandler), and Amar’e were all over the glass. They covered for all of us defensively on all of the rotations. Our energy helped us win that game.”

Williams, among the top three point guards in the league was clearly outplayed by the Ivy Leaguer.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “We jumped out to an early lead and then, at the start of the second quarter, we got a little bit away from what got us the lead. I didn’t do a good job containing Jeremy Lin. He was relentless taking it to the basket.”

Lin’s performance, though shocking to most onlookers, was not a surprise to his teammates.

“It was great,” said Tyson Chandler. “He has been breaking down guys in practice for awhile now. We were saying at halftime, he just needs to play more minutes.”

“He definitely attacks the defense,” Chandler said. “He penetrates and then he reads. He found m a couple of times.”

D’Antoni, his team’s record now at 9-15, knows he’s on the hot seat. He had to give Lin a chance after seeing the mess the other point guards on this team have made of this season, so far.

“He played really well. He has a rhyme and reason for what he is doing and his teammates can play off that,” he said. “Otherwise, the guys are grasping at straws. Again, it is just one game but it is something we sorely needed. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”

The reality is, it’s D’Antoni who’s been grasping at straws in trying to turn Knicks owner Jim Dolan’s roster, dominated by highly-paid big men, into a cohesive unit on both ends of the floor without a floor general or leader who can properly run his acclaimed offensive sets.

“I like his composure,” he said. “He missed three or four wide open shots and we were struggling. That could have, given his position without a lot of experience, rattled a lot of people. But he kept taking shots. That showed a lot of mental toughness.”

Stoudemire, careful not to criticize the other Knicks point guards, Toney Douglas and rookie Iman Shumpert, noticed the difference in how the Knicks were able to accomplish their offensive and defensive game plans when Lin was on the floor.

“Jeremy came on and gave us a great spark off the bench,” said Stoudemire. “He played smart. Being able to just create out there and do so under control was phenomenal. It’s an easy game and once you take the time out there to see how the game is played, it becomes helpful for the team.”

Stoudemire spoke about the unique skills Lin brings to the table that the Knicks were perhaps, lacking.

“I think it’s the way he reads things,” he said. “He takes what the defense gives him. He’s never out of control.

“Defensively, it was a tough task for him to guard Deron Williams but he really got after it and that kind of led us to our offense,” Stoudemire continued. “It allowed us to create space on the floor, moving the ball and it allowed him to get inside the lane, create passing lanes and also, finish the basketball.”

It’s a combination of things. It’s the fact of having the floor spaced and its most important because without the floor being spaced, you can’t run that pick and roll. He won’t be able to get in the lane and get to the basket. So, when that floor is spaced, it’s easier for guys to create. That’s the first thing. Secondly, when the ball moves, teams have to respect shooters so they can’t help off the shooters in the corners or on the wings and allow guys like Jeremy to get to the basket. Thirdly, part of being a great player is being able to get to the basket and create those plays. So, it’s a combination of things.

Tonight, for a scrawny kid who not only doesn’t look like a basketball player, he doesn’t look old enough to be allowed in an arena without a grownup, it was one of those “don’t wake me up from this dream” moments.

“I’d never had a the chance to play with guys like Carmelo and Amar’e until probably the last game or two,” said the kid. “Not even practice with them. I just think working on it every day in practice has helped my game. I also think the D-League helped me as well.”

“I am just thankful to the guys for everything.”

So is D’Antoni and his better-known superstar teammates.

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