He couldn’t do it again, could he? Actually, Jeremy Lin one-upped himself.
A new Madison Square Garden star has been born over the past two Knicks games, and it’s a diminutive second-year point guard from Harvard. After catapulting the Knicks to a crucial win on Saturday with 25 points, Jeremy Lin led a severely shorthanded New York team to a 99-88 win over the Utah Jazz (13-10) on Monday, notching a career high 28 points and 8 assists. The Knicks have been clamoring for competent point guard play, and at the moment they’ve found their new starter in the least likely of places.
The Knicks (10-15) came into the game shorthanded, and six minutes in they found themselves decimated. Amare Stoudemire was at home in Florida after the tragic passing this morning of his older brother Hazell, and Carmelo Anthony strained his groin halfway through the first quarter. Lin, who earned his first career start, suddenly found himself having to run the offense without a safety net.
With their main offensive weapons missing, the Knicks’ defense had to be good and it certainly was in the first half. The Knicks had nine steals before halftime, which helped launch them to a 13-point advantage at the half. A main component of that was the Knicks’ bench, led by Steve Novak who hit five 3-pointers in the game for a season-high 19 points. The third quarter saw the Jazz get back into the game, setting up a fourth quarter that the Knicks easily could have given away. With Tyson Chandler in foul trouble and their thin bench being severely stretched out. But that’s when Lin again took over the game as he did on Saturday. A clearly confident Lin hit a huge three-pointer with the shot clock expiring to put the Knicks up 95-96, essentially icing the game.
Aside from Lin and Novak, the Knicks also got some under-the-radar good performances from others. Jared Jeffries finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and also took five charges. In his post-game press conference, Mike D’Antoni staunchly defended Jeffries, saying that fans who boo him "need to re-examine a few things in their life". Jeffries surely is one of the Knicks’ best glue guys, and he has played a huge role in their past two wins.
Despite being in foul trouble, it’s pretty incredible when you realize the effect Chandler had on the game. In just 22 minutes, he led the Knicks with a +18 rating, finishing with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
The Knicks now have a legitimate chance at winning three straight, as they visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Will the Linsanity continue?