The New York Knicks left Boston on Friday, Feb. 3 after a crushing defeat to the Celtics. They were 8-15. The season was slipping away, and any loss thereafter could have ended Mike D'Antoni's tenure as Knicks head coach. Despite playing in back-to-back games, the Knicks had to wake up on Saturday and gear up for another game, at home to the Nets. It didn't start well. The Knicks found themselves down 12 points early.
Enter Jeremy Lin.
Now a victory on Feb. 17, exactly two weeks since that loss in Boston, and the Knicks will find themselves above the .500 mark. Calling it a stunning turn of events would be a gross understatement. A winning record at any point during the season seemed like a long shot those two short weeks ago. Now at 15-15, the Knicks host the struggling New Orleans Hornets as basketball's hottest team, with the unlikeliest of players leading the way.
There's really no rational explanation for what's happened to the Knicks, and for Lin's success in leading them on this streak. But numbers are numbers, and the only true way to quantify this thing is to look at the Knicks' record. Quite simply, they're 7-0 since Lin started getting serious minutes. His numbers have been astounding during this seven-game stretch: 24.4 points per game, 9.1 assists per game, and even his 4 rebounds per game is impressive. He's totally saved the Knicks' season, his coach's job, and a fanbase's sanity.
Of course the elephant in the room is the Knicks' prized possession, Carmelo Anthony, and since Lin's surge the question has been whether or not Anthony can assimilate himself back into the team without disrupting the good karma. Amare Stoudemire has returned from bereavement the past two games, and the Knicks haven't missed a beat, even if Stoudemire hasn't exactly lit it up yet. The Anthony-Lin tandem fears have been quelled a bit in the past few days, as reports have surfaced -- and have been confirmed by Lin -- that Anthony vouched for Lin to get playing time before the Linsanity all started.
Since coming to the Knicks, Anthony has earned the reputation as a ball-stopper. It's not completely unfounded, but there's also a reason for it, especially Anthony's play early this season. What Lin's insertion has shown is that every basketball team on earth is going to be better with competent point guard play. In today's NBA, great point guard play can make an otherwise mediocre team a good one (see the Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo). It can make a good team a great one (see the Chicago Bulls with Derrick Rose). Where Lin falls in that discussion and where the Knicks can ultimately be remains to be seen, but the idea that Anthony will struggle with Lin is a flawed one. Anthony had his best seasons in Denver playing with Chauncey Billups and Andre Miller.
Anthony is unlikely to feature against the Hornets (6-23) as he recovers from a rash of injuries. He's expected back on Sunday when the Knicks host the Dallas Mavericks, which will pose the biggest threat to derailing Linsanity yet. But before Sunday, Lin cam help take the Knicks from 8-15 all the way to 16-15 in just two short weeks. After that, who knows. But why stop now?