Lin (Who?) Leads Knicks (Again) To Win Over Jazz

Published on: 7th February, 2012

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New York — In Jeremy Lin, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni may just have found his New York version of  Steve Nash and in the process, may have saved his job and the Knicks season from falling into the abyss.

For the second game in a row, Lin, the free agent point guard out of that college basketball factory, Harvard, led the Knicks to another surprising win, a 99-89 win over the visiting Utah Jazz, as he put up downright Nash-ian numbers scoring 28 points while dishing out eight assists in his first career start as a Knick.

In beating the Jazz, who came in with a 13-9 record, the Knicks won their second straight game, energized the building they play in like it hasn’t sounded since last season, continued to develop on-court chemistry, and excited their head coach like he hasn’t been all season.

The Knicks have to hope the kids’ spectacular performances in these last two games, his 25-points against the New Jersey Nets last Saturday and tonight’s masterful display of point guard play are not just a flash in the pan.

“It’s fun, you can actually draw a play up and (say), this might work,” D’Antoni said. “So it was good.”

D’Antoni was absolutely giddy with excitement about the future with his 23-year wonderkind who has now taken over the point guard position.

“I’m riding him like freakin’ Secretariat,” D’Antoni said.

You must understand, D’Antoni doesn’t show emotion a whole lot, particularly in front of the media so this was shocking stuff.

D’Antoni is more talkative and happier than he’s been in weeks, completely understandable since he feels he’s finally found a point guard who can run his offense.

Without Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony at his side, Jeremy Lin set a career-high in points for the second straight night, hanging 28 on Utah.

The severity of Anthony’s injury is unknown. “We’ll find out tomorrow. Obviously when you do that, it’s going to be a couple days before we know the extent of that,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Lin is having the time of his life.

“Basketball’s so fun when you play on a team where people want to work together and work through tough times and overcome them and have victories like this,” Lin said. “This one was ugly and we lost a couple of players, but this team has a lot of will.”

Al Jefferson  scored 22 points in a disappointing effort for the Jazz, who may have lost their edge when they saw who the Knicks were missing.

“As you seen out there tonight, you come in here with that attitude, you’re in trouble,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “These guys can play, man, and they got pride. They get an opportunity to play and they make the most of their minutes.

“They stuck it to us, really.”

Going nowhere all season without a real point guard, the Knicks turned to Lin on Saturday against New Jersey, and he delivered 25 points. He was even better in this one in front of a crowd that again chanted his name much of the night, adding a career-best eight assists.

He made the biggest basket of a game, a desperation 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and 1:58 remaining that gave the Knicks a 95-86 lead. He previously converted two three-point plays in the period, the latter pushing the lead to 10 with 4:29 left.

He did have eight turnovers, surely influenced by fatigue while playing 45 minutes, but D’Antoni was going to keep riding him.

Lin and Novak, whose photocopied bios are included in the game notes package because they were signed too late to make the media guide, helped the Knicks overcome the absence of about 42 points per game from their two stars. So did Jared Jeffries, who added 13 points and eight rebounds while battling the much bigger Utah front line.

“It wasn’t the starters out there but it was definitely guys that are aware that this is the NBA, where on any given night any five can beat any five,” Novak said. “That’s kind of an understood thing in the NBA. I don’t think it will typically happen, that a team that has their starters against a team that doesn’t will win. But I think tonight we just really pushed together, played well and were able to get the win.”

D’Antoni decided to start Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, earlier Monday, and the position could be his for a while. Baron Davis, the expected starter when he becomes available, revealed that an infected right elbow had recently caused him to stop his workouts and it is unknown when he will resume practicing. D’Antoni said it would probably be a week to 10 days from the time he returns to practice to when he’s ready to play in games.

The Knicks led 19-16 after one, gradually increasing it to 37-22 midway through the second quarter as the Jazz simply couldn’t get any offense going. Novak came on to play the final 5:06 and scored 10 points, with Lin driving into the lane and kicking it out to him in the corner for a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left that gave New York a 51-38 halftime lead.

Jefferson grabbed only four rebounds in 35 minutes. Power forward Paul Millsap was limited to nine points on 3-of-10 shooting before fouling out.

“We dug ourselves in a deep hole. You can’t do that no matter who’s on the floor,” Jefferson said. “We’re all professionals. Everybody is a pro. So no matter they didn’t have their star player, they’re still a team that you just can’t go out there and take for granted. We dug ourselves in a deep hole and they got the momentum, got their confidence up and made shots.”

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