The Knicks defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-98, in front of the largest crowd to see a game at the Target Center since 2004. They were there to see Jeremy Lin, who had an off night, but still finished with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
The reason that Lin had an off game is that he had six turnovers and only shot 8-24 from the field. He shot well in the first two quarters, but, understandably, got tired after halftime. Minnesota’s star rookie point guard from Spain, Ricky Rubio (eight assists), played better defense on Lin than any guard has so far.
The best player by far for the Twolves was Kevin Love, who finished with 32 points (10-21) and a very impressive 21 rebounds. However, the 21 turnovers and careless play at the end of the game helped the Knicks steal a win.
For the Knicks, it seems like the turnaround is official, because they have won five in a row and impressively won after it seemed like they might not, in the last few minutes. It also helped that the Knicks were able to shoot 48 percent from the field, as every player besides Mike Bibby, Bill Walker and Lin shot .500 or better for the game.
This winning streak and all of the Linsanity would not have been possible without Lin joining the starting lineup. He has been able to make Steve Novak a factor from the 3-point line and improve the play of Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields.
Minnesota had an early 11 point advantage but the Knicks were able to go on a run and briefly take the lead in the first half.
The Knicks were down 52-44 with 3:20 left in the 2nd quarter. However, Landry Fields would nail a 3 to make it a six point game and then Jared Jeffries would make a two pointer.
With one minute left, to make the score 56-54, Timberwolves, Lin had an excellent drive to the basket where he got by two defenders. That is a move of his that he has done many times in the past week. (Later on in the game Lin executed a perfect crossover to lead to an open jumper.) With that basket he had made six of his last eight shots.
After the lay-up by Lin, the Timberwolves would score four unanswered points to make the score 60-54 at halftime. The Knicks played Swiss cheese defense during the last minute of the second quarter.
Lin scored 15 points and had four assists in the opening half. The Knicks shot 46 percent in the half. They only had nine turnovers, to 14 for the Twolves, but their defense was not good enough, as they allowed Minnesota to shoot about 56 percent.
Fields and Novak continued their strong play of late, as they both chipped in with nine points.
After Fields slammed home a dunk, after two minutes had gone by in the third quarter, he had made six of his last seven shots. That made the score 66-60, Minnesota. Ricky Rubio was then called for a technical foul because he excessively shoved Tyson Chandler.
With 4:15 remaining Jeffries made another corner jumper to make the score 73-71. That jumper marked it a 9-2 run by the Knicks. Fields would then drive to the hoop for two points, but unfortunately Chandler was then called for a technical foul for getting tangled up with Nikola Pekovic.
After it looked like the Twolves were going to pull away, Shump made a 3 from the top of the arc to make the score 82-80.
Rubio made a beautiful pass to Pekovic to make the score 93-86, and Clyde made sure to say that he would rather dish than swish.
Lin struggled in the second half, as he had only shot 1-9, as of 4:35 in the game. Turnovers were also an issue in the second half, as they had seven in the first eight minutes of the final quarter, but that would luckily not cost them the game.
With three minutes remaining, Novak (15 points, six rebounds, four 3-pointers) made another 3, from about 26 feet away from the hoop, to make the score 94-91. This was a critical made shot, as it made it a one possession game.
Rubio blocked Lin, as he was driving to the hoop, but Shump would follow with a clutch 18-foot jumper to put the Knicks up by one. Unfortunately, he would foul out on the next play forcing Walker back into the game.
Novak’s fourth 3 tied the game at 98 with 30 seconds left. Rubio then dribbled the ball off his foot and the Knicks would find themselves be up by two with 1.3 remaining, after Walker made a free throw.
This was the fifth win in a row and it is mostly because they have had improved play from the point guard position, better overall team ball movement, as well as improved defensive play over the last week. Led by Lin, and his creative drives to the basket, they have successfully taken more high percentage shots.
On Tuesday, the Knicks, who are now 13-15, will play the Raptors in Toronto.