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Perfect storm continues for Jeremy Lin, Knicks cruise to win

Feb 15, 2012, 11:02 PM EDT

Knicks' Lin walks up-court during game against Kings in New York's Madison Square Garden Reuters

Linsanity is now 7-0.

For the sensation that is Jeremy Lin to be unleashed — from the wins to the mania that gripped New York and spilled over into popular culture — it takes more than just the fantastic play of Lin. Although that is certainly the catalyst. But it takes a perfect storm of things coming together.

That storm washed over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night and swept them out in a 100-85 win for New York. And it wasn’t that close. But that is what the storm of Linsanity brings now to lesser teams. Lin finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shoointg, a career-best 13 assists and was a plus-19 on the night.

To get to this blowout win, Linsanity’s storm took a lot of factors coming together.

It starts with Lin working hard on his game during the lockout, making improvements with his outside shot, going left and other areas that the Warriors never got to see because they waived him before their first practice. Improvements the Rockets never got to really see because they were already deep with good point guards like Kyle Lowry.

Then it takes him getting a chance in New York, playing on a Knicks team desperate for a point guard that knew how to run the pick-and-roll and organize an offense. Skills that are in Lin’s wheelhouse. He was the perfect fit. It helped that he got a chance to start his run and gain confidence against a series of teams — the Nets, Jazz, Wizards — that are terrible defensively, especially against the pick-and-roll. Give Lin all the credit because he took advantage of those defenses and with each bucket, with each assist his confidence grew. He developed a real swagger against those teams that he unleashed on better squads like the Lakers.

The storm of his popularity also takes a Knicks’ fan base desperate for a messiah at the point guard to save this team and their hopes of winning with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Those hopes seemed to ride on Baron Davis’ unstable back — then suddenly Lin came in and grabbed his chance.

Add to that fact that Lin is Taiwanese-American, becoming the face of a fan base, and that he plays in New York and you have fuel for that storm. Lin would be a big story anywhere, but it is magnified under the bright lights of Broadway.

But in the end, it is about the basketball. All the things that Lin has brought to the Knicks were on display against the Kings on Wednesday.

Lin has brought creativity and freedom to Mike D’Antoni’s offense that was lacking before. With Anthony trying to be a square peg in a round hole as a point-forward, there were a lot of isolations and a lot of standing around. When the ball is in Lin’s hands guys will move off the ball because they know if they get open they will get fed for an easy bucket.

Against Sacramento that became evident with a series of backdoor cuts and ally-oops, as well as wide-open 3-pointers when the defense collapsed on Lin driving the lane.

Lin also brings a balanced attack where everyone gets involved — it’s hard to defend that. Seven Knicks were in double figures led by Landry Fields with 15. Stoudemire added 11 as he is still getting used to playing with Lin.

To be truthful, all sorts of things open up against the Kings defense, which was 27th in the league coming in (giving up 104.7 points per 100 possessions; the league average is 100.2). Like a lot of young teams, they watched the ball too much and lost their man, they collapsed and overhelped. The Knicks destroyed them on backcuts all night long.

For a guard playing like Lin, that kind of defense is like Christmas Day. The Knicks started the game shooting 10-of-12 and Lin had six assists. The game felt over that quickly. Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 19. DeMarcus Cousins played well early, but as tends to happen with him when he got frustrated he started forcing bad shots and not hustling constantly. The result was 15 points on 18 shots and as many fouls as rebounds (4).

You could really see what Lin means to the Knicks when he sat to rest, and the Knicks had nobody who could create penetration or run the pick-and-roll, and they looked like they had much of the season. The Kings could not exploit that.

At some point Lin will come back to earth a little, all storms eventually die out. But what he has brought to the Knicks in terms of balance and creativity could last, and could carry them a long way in the future. They look like the team we all expected them to be right now.

  1. tbibbs01 - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    You know that linsanity has hit me, when I need to play a game of NBA 2k even tho I have mad hw. This dude is too awesome

  2. randygnyc - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    Although this chapter in Jeremy’s book is still lincomplete, the Knicks will continue linning as long as he’s in the linup.

  3. mikefrommars - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Meanwhile, Tony Parker scores 34 with 14 assists and the Spurs are on a name game win streak. Oh and this comes during the rodeo road trip. God bless the New York media train.

    • mikefrommars - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:41 PM

      Nine game*

  4. anhdazman - Feb 15, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Lin’s assist numbers are just going to go up once he gets familiar with Melo’s sweet spot. With Lin being able to play off the pick and roll, he’ll have Stoudimare on one side, Melo on the other and Chandler cutting to the basket. Not many team will be able to stop that. Lin’s best skill is passing, he makes the basic passes look easy and he makes the tough passes look routine. That will get the Knicks deep into the playoffs.

  5. 2seun - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    shut up, kurt. you’re a tool. you’ve doubted jeremy lin from day one, saying he was “not a great point guard” and then saying he might be a useful second team player eventually.

    just own up and admit you were wrong.

    if someone hasn’t “come to earth” after 7 games, couldn’t you at least consider the remote possibility that he might actually be legit?

    you are ridiculous.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      I have said, multiple times, that he has proved me wrong, that he has been better than I thought.

      People’s positions and opinions evolve over time. It’s called life. I’m not always right, but I try to learn.

  6. vikingsinla - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    10 points and 6 TOs? And the guy he was assigned to guard scored 19 points, 2 TOs (and had 2 steals and got to the line twice as much)? Why hasn’t ESPN created a LinCenter yet???

  7. savvybynature - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Good write up. The kid has some flaws: turnovers, bad defense; and some degree of statistical correction will likely come. He may never be the scorer AI was, but he is still a heck of an undrafted rookie. Throw in all those other elements you mentioned, and what he has done is simply phenomenal. Tonight he had a somewhat “disappointing” double-double as he led the Knicks to their seventh straight win. Incredible (no, I won’t say Lincredible dammit!).

    • florida727 - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      I really don’t see his production dropping off much. If there’s a change to his game, statistically, it’ll be like last night… fewer points, more assists. The turnovers will decrease with experience, but the one thing that will remain a constant is that D’Antoni’s system is based on a player like Lin, just as it was with Nash in Phoenix, a reliable if not spectacular shooter who can create his own shot when needed, but a “pass first”, high basketball IQ, see the court, point guard. I kind of disagree with the “storm dying out” comment, simply because if you take away the scoring, his game still translates well to the Knicks’ style of play. Anxious to see what he does against the Heat and the Bulls in particular.

    • njsteeler - Feb 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      savvybynature, I respectfully disagree with a few of your points. Everyone has flaws. The TO’s are an issue. I expect him to correct that the longer he plays, and the more he plays with, and becomes familiar with his teammates. He’s not that bad of a defender in my opinion. Yeah, Calderon killed him the other night, but the kid has good feet, and from what I’ve seen is willing to put in the work and effort. A “disappointing” double-double??? That was an effecient double-double. 10 points on 4-6 shooting from the field, and 13 assist in 26 or 27 minutes. What do you find disappointing about that? That’s a very good game by a PG. He did what he had to do, and was good enough doing it, that he was able to take off the entire 4th quarter. He’s not going to continue averaging 27/28 points a game. There’s no reason for him to, if things go as planned. It’s good to know that he can score when needed though. Jeremy Lin is LEGIT!! Shoot, Russell Westbrook is a turnover machine, and he’s an All-Star. Lin is just fine, and will continue to develop!!

      • savvybynature - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        I agree with you. He seems willing to work at his game, and if he does as he gets more experience he absolutely should and will get better at defense and reduce his turnovers. The “disappointing” double-double comment was sarcastic. I perhaps should have said a “quiet” double-double. All I meant by that was that by the ridiculous high standards he had set, 13 and 11 was sort of a ho-hum game for him. In reality 4 of 6 shooting for 10 points and 13 assists is a great game for an undrafted rookie, and that’s really what I was getting at: Yes, his scoring will go down from those first four starts where he averaged more than any rookie since the merger, BUT even if they do it won’t matter because his is still an incredible story, he seems like a genuinely humble and good person, and the dude is a legit talent. He deserves all the recognition he is getting imo and I wish him the best.

  8. asublimeday - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    It’s nice to see Lin emerge on a team that once depended on a turd like carmello to be their leader.

    I’m sorry, but you’ll never be an NBA icon when you featured in a video called “stop snitchin”.

  9. coats2m - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    The best part about Lin? He doesn’t shove Jesus down your throat after every win. Time Tebow should take some notes.

  10. africanballer - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    in all this the one thing that absolutely amazes me about this kid is his humility. Total Class.

  11. db105 - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    Yawn

  12. user1000000 - Feb 16, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Just goes to show how much intelligence matters in sports. So much for the dumb jock. You have to be able to make smart plays. You have to have focus and you have to have drive and determination. Who wouldn’t want a Harvard alum in their lineup? Sports or otherwise, those are characteristics that get you ahead in life

  13. theghostofwillisreed - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    can’t argue one point here. good write-up.

    i just hope for his sake that the inevitable backlash isn’t too harsh from all the armchair sportswriters when the eventual statistical correction does come.

    one thing is for sure. jeremy lin, the basketball player, has saved the season. jeremy lin, the cult icon, saved the nba’s season.

    • md23rewlz - Feb 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      Let’s be honest: The backlash is going to be gigantic. He is routinely getting top headlines on ESPN. He plays in New York. A week ago, New York wanted the coach dead and every single player on the team traded. Once he reaches a Tebow-level of annoyance (and it’s coming soon), non-Knick fans are going to bask in that statistical correction does come. Should the Knicks start losing, fans are going to turn because that’s what fans in New York do. If, three weeks from now, the Knicks are on a losing streak, we’ll be seeing posts like, “Lin had a good week and a half, but the kid was a fluke. Why are the Knicks starting this guy? A good week and a half doesn’t mean jack right now. Fire everybody.” Except the posts will contain more expletives and misspelled words, because it’s the internet and I can only do so much.

      As for saving the NBA’s season? Ratings around the league were up before Lin became a thing anybody cared about. Nobody’s watching a Dallas-Houston game because Jeremy Lin exists. He made the Knicks relevant again. Not the NBA.

      • theghostofwillisreed - Feb 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM

        fair point but at the same time. lin is getting front covers right now. who beisdes lebron or kobe has been doing that this year?

        like i said, the backlash is coming. my hope is it doesn’t kill him and my team.

  14. starderup - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Ok, I’m getting really sick of hearing about this guy.

    • slowclyde86 - Feb 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Says the guy who saw the headline, opened it up, read it and posted to it.

  15. richwizl - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    This guy is playing his heart out and showing what he’s got; good for him and his team. Of course, the media world has to turn it into another “Tebowmania” thing for ratings, which is getting old. In another few months we’ll all be wondering why he isn’t Michael Jordan.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      Are you kidding, he is going to be so much better than MJ…. (joke, it’s a joke)

  16. slowclyde86 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    You are an embarrassment, captain. How is making fun of someone’s race remotely funny? This is a great story, why are you trying to insert this garbage into it? Get a life.

  17. thecrazyasianinseccountry - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    I’m not a huge basketball fan, much less the Knicks, but I’ve posted three times, including this one, already.
    The fact that he’s Asian might be one, a very small one, reasons why I’m following the NBA’s regular season at all.
    I just love this story just as much as I love Kurt Warner’s story when he got his chance. I remember holding back chokes from emotion to see someone who, despite the odds against them, made it. And yes I’m a sucker for Tebow also, not so much much when he was kicking LSU’s @ss, but I love it when he does well in the NFL. I already know what the so call experts are going to say when either Tebow or Lin both fail, which I hope not.
    Regardless of what happens, from here on out, these guys have nothing to put the heads down. They are living their dreams and are doing what they love. What more can a person ask for in life?
    God Bless!

  18. granadafan - Feb 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Jeremy Lin >> Tim Tebow

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