‘Hart On Hoops’
By Sean Hartnett
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All season, the New York Knicks searched for a point guard who could effectively run their offense and get the most out of teammates. Who could have imagined that undrafted D-League graduate Jeremy Lin would be given this platform to showcase an assortment of abilities few knew he possessed?
After Lin torched the New Jersey Nets for 25 points and 7 assists on Saturday, the first question on everybody’s lips was: “Impressive… but can he do it again?” It was a fair question posed by NBA analysts and fans alike. After all, Lin had only logged 284 career minutes and was waived by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before joining the Knicks.
Lin’s remaining doubters were soon won over as he again entertained the Madison Square Garden crowd for a second straight game. New Yorkers love an underdog story but Lin’s story quickly shifted into one of hope and inspiration as he was carrying the hopes of Knicks fans upon his back.
The “Jer-emy, Jer-emy” chants heard around MSG on Saturday transformed into “MVP, MVP” chants on Monday night as Lin set new career bests with 28 points and 8 assists. Of course, it was an exaggeration by the Garden crowd but Lin’s efforts were invaluable to the shorthanded Knicks as he played the role of floor general and took part in 44:52 of 48 minutes.
Amar’e Stoudemire had flown to Florida to be with his family after his brother, Hazell tragically died in a car accident on Monday morning. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony hobbled off the court in the first quarter after only 5:49 of play and was unable to return for the rest of the game due to a strained groin.
Without their two main weapons, someone had to step up and take hold of the Knicks’ offensive burden.
Not only did Lin show tremendous ferocity with his drives to the hoop but also got the most out of his supporting cast. Many of Lin’s journeys into the key drew extra attention from Jazz defenders as he made a number of flashy passes to Tyson Chandler. Lin also teamed well with ‘outside the arc’ specialist Steve Novak who came off the bench to score 19 points.
When the Knicks tip-off in Washington against the Wizards on Wednesday, all eyes will be focussed on Lin. The Wizards will be better prepared than the Nets or Jazz as they’ll have ample time to study Lin’s tendencies and formulate a plan on how to stop him.
It will be a difficult challenge for Lin to again display his creativity and handle the responsibility of guarding John Wall. He’ll have to prove himself all over again to his skeptics but Lin appears to possess a rare ability to confuse defenders with his hesitation moves and create space off the dribble.
I have a feeling that ‘The Jeremy Lin Show’ isn’t over just yet. He seems to have earned the faith of head coach Mike D’Antoni who told reporters postgame, “Jeremy kind of settles everything, puts everything in perspective, and we can build on that. We hope. Again, second game… I don’t want to get too far ahead, but I am excited.”
Stay tuned Knicks fans…
Knicks fans… Will Jeremy Lin continue his success against Washington or have we already seen the best that he can offer? Is he the solution to the Knicks’ point guard problems? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to: @HartnettWFAN.