Jeremy Lin proved that his performance against Deron Williams was not a fluke, as he had 28 points and eight assists against the Utah Jazz, in what was probably the best win of the season, so far for the Knicks. He actually almost had a triple-double, since he had eight turnovers, but he was being very aggressive, while repeatedly attacking the basket.
A lot can be taken out of the win, especially since Carmelo Anthony only played for five minutes and Amar’e Stoudemire was absent, due to personal reasons. It should be noted that there was a moment of silence at Madison Square Garden for Stoudemire before the National Anthem because his brother passed away.
The crowd was electric from the beginning, as Lin got, by far, the loudest ovation out of any starter. He had 25 points and seven assists on Saturday against the Nets, so it definitely made sense that D’Antoni put him into the starting lineup. When they played the New Jersey the crowd chanted “JER-E-MY”, but against the Jazz everybody gave Lin even more lofty praise.
Anthony only played five minutes because of a groin injury he sustained in the first quarter, but the team did not really miss him. Today, we have learned that Carmelo Anthony will miss 1-2 weeks of basketball, while his pulled groin heals.
The Knicks were able to make the extra pass, as the team finished with 19 assists, while shooting an impressive 48 percent from the field. Jared Jeffries likely had his best game of the season, as he started in place of Stoudemire and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while also sacrificing his body five times, for charges.
In the first five minutes of the game, Landry Fields was able to continue his improved play of late by converting a successful drive to the basket. Lin, the star to the game, would also make the first of his many acrobatic lay-ups, helping the Knicks take a 10-5 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Lin displayed one of his Steve Nash-like passes, when he made a pass from the half-court line that should have led to a dunk by Jared Jeffries, but he ended up taking and missing this lay-up with about four minutes left in the quarter. This was not shocking, since Jeffries has trouble finishing at the basket.
This missed opportunity happened with about two minutes left in the first quarter and about one or two plays happened later in the game when Lin made a pass that should have led to two or three-pointer, so Lin should have definitely finished with a double-double.
Toney Douglas, who only played 2:41 because of Lin’s dominance, missed two 3-pointers towards the end of the quarter, ruining a chance to give the team a potentially nine-point cushion at the end of the quarter, instead of three. After that second missed three, Douglas sat for the rest of the game and the crowd seemed to be happy about that.
With about 7:30 left in the second quarter, Lin had another impressive drive to the basket using his body to perfection and the rookie, Iman Shumpert, made a jumper to give the Knicks a 35-20 lead. Shumpert had a solid overall game, scoring eight points, pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Shump should not shoot as many jumpers as he does, but he has proven to be able to help the team in many different ways.
The Knicks would take a 51-38 lead at halftime. They were able to play above average defense throughout the opening half, while taking high percentage shots. The Jazz would come close in the second half, but never really took control.
The Jazz basically only stayed in the game because of Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap. They are both power forwards/centers who are hard to defend and keep off the glass, especially for the Knicks. Milsap finished with nine points and 13 rebounds, while Jefferson had 22 points and four boards.
Milsap made an uncontested lay-up to pull the Jazz within seven, 66-59, but before that, Lin displayed more of his Deron Williams/Chris Paul type plays. Lin really got the crowd off their feet after he did a crossover that completely faked out his defender, leading to an open jumper. Right after that, he had another drive to the hoop expertly using the glass for two points.
He is also similar to Steve Nash, since many times throughout the game he drove to the basket while keeping his head up to find Steve Novak behind the 3-point line or somebody at the basket, like Tyson Chandler, for a dunk.
Novak, who is the best shooter from long range on the team, hit basically all of his five 3-pointers off of perfect passes from Lin. Novak had a season high 19 points and Lin was the reason for it because he found him in position so that he could catch and shoot and not have to dribble. Novak is similar to Jason Kapono because he is very reliable when he gets the ball after penetration, and that is what Lin is able to do.
The Jazz would come to within about four of the Knicks in the beginning of the fourth, but Lin, along with Bill Walker, who had 11 points (3 3-pointers) and five rebounds, helped keep the Knicks in the lead.
After the game, Jeffries said, “Me and Coach have a great relationship and I’ll die for him… he’s the best coach in the NBA”.
It is very impressive that they were able to beat the Jazz, who were 13-9 coming into the game, while basically playing without Anthony and Stoudemire. However, not having Anthony probably did improve the ball movement. It does seem like the defensive play has improved over the last two games as well.
Lin, the second year player from Harvard, had the crowd repeatedly chanting “MVP” for him and that made sense because he has basically saved the season with his hustle, passing, shooting and drives to the hoop. He was also very humble in his interview with Tina Cervasio on center court after the game.
Lin is definitely now a fan favorite and I even saw somebody wearing a Lin jersey.
All the players on the team were excited for Lin’s play and that makes sense because everybody likes winning. The Knicks should be able to pick up another win against the Wizards, in D.C., on Wednesday.