Lin Astounds Lakers and Garden Crowd in 92-85 Win Over Lakers

Published on: 11th February, 2012


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Lin Astounds Lakers and Garden Crowd in 92-85 Win Over Lakers  | read this item

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New York – There once was a famous Broadway play, oddly enough, about another sports team in this town. It was called Damn Yankees and it was about an older man who dreamed of regaining his youth and becoming a star baseball player. The old guy made a deal with the devil to give him youth and talent for one season only, just so he could lead his beloved and forever lowly Senators to a pennant over those damned Yankees. The character, named Joe Hardy, came out of nowhere, absolutely NOWHERE, and became a superstar player. And, the Senators won the pennant.

If all this sounds strangely familiar to current basketball fans, it’s because the Knicks have their own version of Joe Hardy and his name is Jeremy Lin. We’re not sure, yet, but it doesn’t appear this Lin kid has made any deal with a devil that we know of, unless NBA Commissioner, David Stern, an inveterate Knicks fan, has grown horns.

So after all the hoopla, all the media attention paid to the Knicks multi-millionaire signings of players like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and to Jim Dolan’s two-year long pursuit of another gazillionaire player, LeBron James, the balance of this Knicks season has come down to one factor.

The indispensable, unreplaceable Jeremy Lin.

The kid from Harvard who had been cut by two different NBA teams in the past two years has come onto the scene like a gigantic flash of light and has taken over New York, and the NBA. This slightly built, 6’2” point guard who averaged 16 points per game his senior year in college but couldn’t make an NBA roster is the biggest star in the league, right now. This undervalued, under-scouted player who agreed to go to the NBA Development League after being cut by the Warriors and the Houston Rockets just so he could continue to play a game he has a  burning passion for before he moves on with the rest of his life with his Harvard economics degree has, in just four measly games with the Knicks,  turned the basketball world upside down.

Lin has not only become a national story but because of his Taiwanese heritage and his being the first player from that little nation to make it in the NBA, his story is now becoming a global sensation.

The Lin legend reached previously unseen heights tonight on the biggest of stages. In front of a sold-out house at Madison Square Garden, and with a national ESPN television audience glued to their sets, Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers rode into the Garden to see what all the excitement had been about the Knicks’ “Jeremy The Kid.”

The Lakers got far more than they could handle as Lin astounded them and the 19,763  people in the building with a new career-high 38 points, outdueling Bryant (34 points) and leading the Knicks to their fourth consecutive win, 92-85. Lin, in his customary seat on the bench throughout this season until Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni threw him on the court in desperation last week against the Celtics for seven minutes, changed everything for the Knicks in this game, and quite possibly, for this season. In his four starts, he has scored 25, 26, 23, and tonight’s 38 as the Knicks have won all four of those games behind their new point guard’s slippery, quick, pick and roll maneuverings.

And remember, this winning streak has come without the presence of their two highest paid players, Anthony, out with a groin injury and Stoudemire, on a leave of absence after the death of his older brother in a Florida car accident.

Lin’s play, shocking to all followers of the sport, has been astounding to his own teammates

“The level he is playing at right now I have never seen,” said Jared Jeffries. “As a team, he lifts us up. It is weird for a guy to come in and be a team leader who has bounced around like he has. He has inspired us to play harder because he gives it his all every day.”

The Knicks have clearly been transformed and energized by the kid, even with the likes of replacement players like Steve Novak, himself no stranger to NBA benches and perennial role players like Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker garnering many of the minutes usually taken by Stoudemire and Anthony. Somehow, Lin has molded an undersized, motley crue of players into a threat to beat even the best teams in the league.

Bryant, who said yesterday in response to a reporters’ question that he had never heard of Lin, changed his tune after tonight’s game.

“It is a great story,” Bryant said. “Players don’t usually come out of nowhere. It is a testament to perseverance and hard work. It is a good example to kids, everywhere. I’m sure he’s put in a great deal of work and has always had that belief in himself. Now, he has the opportunity to show it. It should be a lot of fun for the city once they get Carmelo (Anthony) back.”

Lin scored 10 of the Knicks 22 points in the first quarter and 18 in the first half of the Knicks total of 49 in the first 24 minutes of the game as the Knicks built and maintained a comfortable lead at the half, 49-41.

The Lakers, coming off an overtime win last night in Boston, were admittedly bleary-eyed from the overnight travel into New York but like most teams who come into Madison Square Garden, push aside their exhaustion for the big Broadway stage.

“We didn’t have the energy to play well, tonight,” said Bryant. “We didn’t carry it and we seemed very lethargic.”

That was true in the first half, with Bryant, in particular shooting just 1-6 in the half, totaling just 10 points.

In the second half, the Lakers creeped closer as they outscored the Knicks in the third quarter, 19-17 with Bryant getting his legs and shooting rhythm on his way to putting up 10 points as the Knicks lead was down to six, 66-60.

Knicks fans are used to Bryant taking over games in the last quarter and braced themselves for another one of the star’s onslaughts but this time, he was matched nearly point for point by the shocking play of the new Knicks star, Lin. Bryant scored 14-points in the final quarter but Lin put up 11 of his own to go along with two assists, two rebounds and a steal to keep the Lakers at bay.

The crowd was at its loudest tonight, as the mixture of Bryant, Gasol and the championship caliber Lakers against the underdog, undermanned scrappy Knicks provided a delicious main dish for basketball-hungry fans in this town.

Lin and Knicks didn’t disappoint.

Whether or not Lin is a real-life Joe Hardy or, has in fact, made a deal with the devil, the soul of this Knicks team has been automatically and immeasurably raised by the sudden appearance on the scene of this little-known  player. What had been a bummer of a season now has the fans of this team stoked and the locker room generating an energy not seen until someone or something got a hold of one Jeremy Lin.

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