(Illustration from Bobby Bernethy)
Barring an NBA Finals featuring the two teams, the Los Angeles Lakers only visit Madison Square Garden once, this year. The occasion is a one time chance during the season to see Kobe Bryant and what exploits he’ll have at the Garden. In 2009, it was his 61-point performance; In 2008 it was a near triple double performance of 39 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists; In 2006, he dropped 40 at the Garden. Time and time again, the Lakers visit to the Garden brings about questions of, “What will Kobe do tonight?”
However last night (or in the days leading to the game), it wasn’t about the Black Mamba. It wasn’t about the Lakers and their history. Last night’s Lakers-Knicks battle was about one person. Jeremy. Lin.
The Linsanity continued last night, as the Knicks beat the Lakers 92-85. The Knicks have now won four straight games and moved to just a half game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. It was the Knicks’ first win vs. the Lakers in New York, since a 99-94 win in January of 2007. Lin led the Knicks with 38 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points and 10 rebounds.
The Knicks led this game throughout. The Lakers last lead in the game was 4-3 with 9:06 left in the first quarter, but struggled after that. They shot just 34% from the floor in the 1st half. Bryant started the game just 1-for-6 for 10 points, but did manage to grab four rebounds and keep the Lakers in it from the free throw line, going 8-for-9. Pau Gasol had 10 points and five rebounds on 4-for-7 shooting in the half.
Meanwhile, the Knicks shot 46% in the first half, with Lin leading the team with 18 points and five assists. It was 49-41 at halftime and little did anyone know, it was really over. While Kobe would come alive in the 2nd half for 24 points on 10-for-23 shooting, it wasn’t enough to bring the Lakers back. Lin added another 20 points after the half to finish with 38 and lead the Knicks to the victory.
Once again, this game was all about Lin. It was Lin’s fourth straight game with at least 20 points, five assists and 50% shooting. The only other player in the NBA to pull off the feat this year has been LeBron James, who has done it on four separate occasions. The 89 points in his last three starts are the most by a Knicks player in his first three starts ever. EVER.
Tonight, the Knicks hope their Linning ways continue, as they go on the road to battle the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rubio vs. Lin. Should be fun.