Feb 19, 2012, 4:17 PM EDT
And the show goes on.
The scouting report was supposed to be out on Jeremy Lin. After a Hornets defense confounded, frustrated and beat him down Friday night, the blueprint was supposed to be in place to stop the dynamic young Knicks star. Yeah, that paradigm is over. Lin lit up the Mavericks and their fourth-ranked in efficiency defense Sunday, scoring 28 points and 14 assists, with 4 rebounds, 5 steals, and a block in the Knicks’ 104-97 win over Dallas Sunday.
Lin looked refreshed by a break in the schedule, and was back to his pick-and-roll-trap-splitting ways. Shawn Marion couldn’t keep him on the edge, and he split the Mavericks. He hurt them with the floater, he drew fouls, and he kicked out to open shooters time and time again. The fact that his weapons stepped up for him helped a lot. J.R. Smith made an immediate impact, despite clearly having no clue what kind of offense the Knicks were running. And then there was Novak.
Steve Novak, a fringe player for years after a promising season in Houston just like Lin, knocked down 4-5 threes to give the Knicks a second-half boost after falling down double-digits. Novak’s understanding of timing in getting open in the corner opens up the offense so much, and it was pivotal in yet another game where Amar’e Stoudemire struggled.
The most underrated part of Lin’s performance may be defensively, where he absolutely victimized the Mavericks in the passing lanes. He created fast break opportunities and has become deadly in transition, making the right decision to score or dish nearly every time. If there was a downside, it was his seven turnovers, six in the second half, which are in part a product of his high usage (Lin played 46 minutes Sunday), in part a product of D’Antoni’s system, and in part a product of his inexperience. But if we’re going to evaluate Lin’s performance honestly, they need to be mentioned. In no way do they overshadow the way he took over the game in the biggest moments, though, nor take away from the incredible story as it continues to unfold.
For the Mavericks, it was a tough loss. They were on the wrong end of a number of questionable calls, and struggled to get their legs under them. Their biggest issue, honestly, though, was containing Lin. That may seem like the easy narrative, but the truth is that Lin stepped up against one of the best defensive teams in the league, the defending champions, and punished them over and over again.
Like, you know, this.
If there were any doubters left after this performance, they should probably come forward. Because it’s become impossible to deny just how good Jeremy Lin has been.