Feb 17, 2012, 11:53 PM EDT
But in the final minutes of the first loss in the Linsanity era Friday night, the Knicks really needed Carmelo Anthony. They needed a second player who can create his own shot (or a shot for others). They needed a second player who does not shrink in the big moments. It’s at moments like the final minutes of a close game where Lin and Anthony could be the kind of combo that wins New York a lot of games.
They lost this one. To the team with the second-worst record in the league. Linsanity is not dead, but it is not infallible either. New Orleans knocked off the Knicks 89-85. New York did not get above .500 on the season, falling to 15-16.
Knicks fans, if you want to blame someone, blame Spike Lee for wearing Jeremy Lin’s high school jersey to the game. He was overlooked then, too.
Actually, blame the turnovers.
Lin had nine of the Knicks’ 21 turnovers on the night. On his first possession of the game, Lin threw a bounce pass at Amare Stoudemire’s feet in transition and turned it over. On his second possession he was forced left and drove the lane but missed the layup (Tyson Chandler cleaned it up for the putback). On his third possession he drove from the top of the key down the lane but lost control, tried to jump-save it and threw it away to the Hornets. On his next possession he drove the lane but lost control and it went off his knee out of bounds.
It was that kind of night for Lin and the Knicks.
The Hornets played about as well as a poor team suffering a rash of injuries could be expected to play. Trevor Ariza led New Orleans with 25 points and every Hornets starter was in double figures. The Hornets made 7-of-12 3-pointers as well.
New York still had its chances. The Knicks cut the lead to four midway through third quarter, but by the start of the fourth it was 10 points again.
In the fourth, an Iman Shumpert step-back three and an Amare 18-footer cut the lead to five with 8:21 left and we had a game. It was close the rest of the way, but this time Linsanity was not enough.
When Lin was cut off on the drive the entire offense had to reset, costing precious time. That is why they needed Anthony. Or J.R. Smith (who can create shots — only for himself, but they are shots). The Knicks’ attack lacked diversity and the Hornets took advantage.
That happens. But it is far from the end of Linsanity in New York.
What Lin has brought to New York is hope, and on the court what he brought was freedom and creativity. For a night, that got lost, blinded by the Hornets’ Mardi Gras uniforms (or something). There is work to do, to integrate Anthony and Smith into the offense.
But there is potential there, and Lin adds hope that it can be worked out. This was one ugly, off night against a bad team. Despite what some New Yorkers think, Lin could not turn water into wine or the Knicks into consistent winners all by himself.
What matters is how the Knicks bounce back and play their next game. How Linsanity on the court evolves as the talent gets added back onto the roster. There is an opportunity there. The old Knicks squandered that. We’ll see what the Lin Knicks do.