Knicks Pass Huge Test In Win Over Mavericks

Published on: 19th February, 2012

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Lin vs. Mavs
Knicks Pass Huge Test In Win Over Mavericks  | read this item

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New York – In front of a national television audience and a celebrity-filled, frenzied home crowd at Madison Square Garden this afternoon, the New York Knickerbockers passed a series of  major tests in their quest to become one of the league’s elite teams. They defeated the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, 104-97 but in the midst of this win, their new point guard and their newest addition to the roster also passed several important tests.

Jeremy Lin, the formerly unknown player with Harvard and the NBA Development League on his resume played more minutes (45) than anyone else on the Knicks, scored more points (28) than anyone, compiled more assists (14) and had more steals (5) than anyone else, proving once more that no game or opponent is too big for him. As each game of his NBA career gets played, he continues to firmly entrench himself as the new orchestrator of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense and defense.

“Lin played terrific,” said Mavs head coach, Rick Carlisle. “He was good in the pick-and-roll and more than anything he lined us up one on one. He threw in two or three shots at the end of the shot clock, and one or two of them were three’s. You have to give him credit, he’s playing great.”

Lin was far from the only story today. Enter brand-spanking new Knick, J.R. Smith.

Smith checked in to a loud ovation with 5:43 left in the first quarter, just before Jason Terry’s 3-pointer gave the Mavs an 18-13 lead. He made a 3-pointer on his first shot and drilled two more during a 17-0 run that made it 30-18 on Lin’s 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in the period. Lin’s floater with 1.4 seconds left made it 32-20, giving him 10 points in the period. But, it was Smith, just returning to the United States from a stint in the Chinese Basketball Association, who opened up the floor for the Knicks and gave them a huge shot in the arm with clutch shooting.

Friday’s loss may have ended the Knicks’ winning streak, but certainly not the buzz around Lin. “Saturday Night Live” opened with a spoof of Linsanity and Sunday’s crowd included Kevin Costner, Eva Longoria, Spike Lee — wearing Lin’s No. 4 Harvard jersey — and another famous Harvard product, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg. Lin’s high school coach from Palo Alto (Calif.) High School also made the trip.

“I think it’s huge for our confidence,” said Tyson Chandler. “I love the way we played today. J.R. Smith brings a punch and an element to the game that we haven’t had..that combined with the way we’ve been playing of late and how balanced we are…it was special and I felt it out there.”

“They’re a dangerous team,” he said. “They keep you at their pace the entire game and kind of lull you to sleep. They’re veteran savvy catches up to you at the end of the game. We were able to get past that and play solid defense and we were able to pull it out today. The champs don’t fall easy…we backed them into a corner and kept pounding and at the end of the day, we were able to get the win.”

Carlisle was duly impressed with the Knicks firepower.

“I thought the two things that did us in were the 17-0 run in the first quarter after the flagrant foul, we went from up five to down 12, and the run they made at the end of the third. They’re going to hit three’s. They’re a good shooting team. They cause problems to facilitate three’s. But those two runs and our turnovers did us in.”

“Steve Novak played his game. He had open shots and scrambled around defensively. He’s helped change the complexion of their team because he’s such a threat from the three- point line. We know all too well what he’s capable of, and he’s a very good piece for what they’re doing.”

Shawn Marion, all 6’8” and long arms, was asked to jump out to where Lin was dribbling the ball to double team the 6’2” guard and force him into bad passes.

In a game of wild momentum swings, the Knicks reeled off 17 straight points in the first quarter, fell behind by 12 in the third, then pulled it out to beat the Mavericks for only the third time in the last 20 meetings.

Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 34 points for the Mavericks, who had been playing championship-level defense but became the latest team who couldn’t stop Lin.

Playing for the seventh straight game without the injured Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks got a huge lift from Smith, just signed Friday after returning from China. Coach Mike D’Antoni had previously said he wouldn’t play Sunday since he hadn’t practiced yet, but when swingman Bill Walker also had to sit out with an injury, D’Antoni needed someone at that position, and Smith hit three of the Knicks’ 12 3-pointers.

Lin had nine turnovers, tied for the most in the NBA this season, Friday in an 89-85 loss to New Orleans that stopped a seven-game winning streak. He has committed six or more in six straight games, but D’Antoni said Saturday he wanted Lin to keep taking risks.

They paid off Sunday, when Lin got the Knicks back into a game that had seemed to be getting away in the third quarter, before shooters all around him got hot in the fourth.

Novak made four 3-pointers in about 4½ minutes of the fourth quarter, then Lin buried one to give the Knicks a 90-81 lead with 6:51 remaining. The Mavs got it back down to two on Jason Terry‘s 3-pointer with 3:26 left, but Lin answered with a 3, and the Mavs couldn’t get closer then three again.

Tyson Chandler capped it off with a dunk and had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks in his first game against the team he helped win last season’s championship. The Mavs made little attempt to keep him, opting instead for future salary flexibility over his defensive presence.

But there had been little slippage, as the Mavs came in holding opponents to an NBA-low 41.4 percent shooting from the field. They were limiting teams to 39.2 percent during the winning streak, but the Knicks carved them up for 54 percent in the first quarter as Lin ran the offense flawlessly.

Long before Linsanity, Lin actually started his NBA career with the Mavs’ summer league team in 2010. But owner Mark Cuban said Lin preferred to play closer to home, and he signed with the Warriors, who cut him, as did Houston, in December before the Knicks picked him up off waivers.

“It wasn’t luck because there were how many other teams that could have signed Jeremy and the Knicks were the ones who went out and got him,” Cuban said. “So they saw something and they were smart enough to go out and get him.”

 

But Lin went to the bench to start the second quarter and the Knicks’ momentum went right with him. Dallas ran off the first seven points before D’Antoni called time and put Lin back in. The Knicks shot only 32 percent in the quarter but held on to take a 48-45 halftime lead.

Nowitzki had 11 points, including a four-point play, during an 18-7 surge out of halftime, and the Mavs would go up by 12 when his free throws made it 70-58 with 4:17 left in the third quarter. The Knicks closed the period with a 14-5 burst behind eight points from

 

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