The Knicks defeated the Sacramento Kings, 100-85, in a game they dominated from start to finish. This was their seventh win in a row, sixth with Jeremy Lin in the starting lineup, and it pushes the team back to .500, at 15-15.
Jimmer Fredette, who is from Glens Falls, which is near Albany, had his first game at Madison Square Garden with the Kings, but Jeremy Lin was once again the star of the game.
Lin did not score as many points as he has the past few games, but he had 10 points, dished out 13 assists and pulled down five rebounds. There are not as many scoring opportunities for him with Amar’e Stoudemire back, but if he can continue to average 10 or more assists the Knicks should be able to win most of their games.
The Kings (10-19) only finished with 15 assists for the whole game, which is only two more than Lin had by himself. They also shot 38 percent for the game and the Knicks only allowed them to make 29 percent of their 3-pointers.
Lin seems like he will be able to play a similar role in the offense as Steve Nash did when Stoudemire played for the Phoenix Suns. Lin is obviously not in the same category as Nash right now, but he has proven that he can make an open jumper, can run the pick-and-roll, find the open teammate, score at the basket and do anything it takes to get the win.
A key stat in the victory for the Knicks is that they were able to pull down 48 rebounds to only 35 for the Kings and they were able to continue to take high percentage shots leading to shooting 50 percent from the field.
After scoring 21 points and pulling down nine rebounds against Toronto, Stoudemire was not rusty to start the game. He nailed a 15-foot jumper to make the score 5-4 with two minutes gone by. He would follow that up with an 18-foot jumper to continue his strong start. STAT would then throw down a dunk from a sweet pass from Bill Walker to put the Knicks up 13-7, before a timeout was called by the Kings with 7:28 left in the quarter.
Lin seems to already know where to pass Stoudemire the ball so that he will be in position to score or get fouled, since half way through the first, he passed the ball to STAT on the baseline, which led to him getting fouled as he drove to the basket. Stoudemire would only make the second free throw to extend the lead to 10, 23-13.
Iman Sumpert fouled Isaiah Thomas with a second left in the quarter and Thomas would make both from the line to make the score 25-17. That is how the first quarter would end, as Shumpert, Steve Novak and Jared Jeffries played portions of the last four minutes and the team did not really miss a beat. The Kings only shot 30 percent in the first quarter.
A positive for Lin during the first quarter is that he finished with zero turnovers and contributed with five points and six assists. In their win over the Toronto Raptors, where he made the game-winner, and finished with 11 assists, he struggled a little with taking care of the ball in the first-half.
Walker has not played as well as he is capable of the past few weeks, but was able to find another teammate for a dunk, this time Jeffries. That was his second assist in addition to his six early points. He would finish with 14 points.
Lin showed good chemistry with Chandler as he threw a perfect alley-oop to him to put the Knicks up 40-30. Stoudemire made his first mistake of the game as he took on two defenders in his drive to the basket leading to a missed shot. Sometimes Stoudemire does this, but with Lin playing similar to how Nash played when he was in Phoenix, this should happen less.
Steve Novak made a 24-foot 3, assisted by Landry Fields to give the Knicks a 14 point advantage. He nailed the corner shot right in front of the Knicks bench and had the support of his teammates as he was fouled by Travis Outlaw. He is definitely their best shooter from long range and has been a valuable weapon since Lin has been playing.
In the first half the Knicks dominated in all aspects of the game. The Kings were shooting 33 percent at the half and the ball movement could not have been much better for the home team. They had an 18 point cushion, 54-36. It did not seem like the Kings had a chance of making a comeback.
The Knicks were able to play just like they did in the first-half, during the third quarter, as they had a 77-55 lead with one quarter remaining.
The Knicks had no chance of blowing the lead so they were able to play reserves, such as Jerome Jordan, Toney Douglas and Renaldo Balkman. Douglas was the starting point guard earlier in the season, but is now riding the bench since he has trouble finding the open man.
However, it is a good sign that the Knicks were able to play consistent the whole game so that Lin, Stoudemire, Chandler and Fields could rest at the end of the game.
Tyreke Evans scored 19 points, had five assists and four rebounds, but the Knicks were able to limit the production from everybody else on the Kings. They proved that they are capable of limiting the opposition on the defensive end.
This was a total team effort, as Fields was the high scorer and had a solid all around game with 15 (he had 10 rebounds and five assists), but seven players were able to score in double figures. Novak scored 14 (3 3-pointers), Shumpert chipped in with 11 points and Jeffries continued his improved play with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Knicks should be able to make it eight in a row, as they play the Hornets, who have five wins, at MSG, on Friday. Lin can’t be contained and has brought the fire and desire back to the crowd (in addition to many fans holding his picture and wearing creative t-shirts). He even has people who are not basketball fans talking about him.