MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jeremy Lin did it again.
Lin hit a free throw with 4.9 seconds left to overcome a dreadful second half and lift the New York Knicks to their fifth straight victory, 100-98, over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Steve Novak scored 15 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 36 seconds to play and Lin used his quickness to draw a foul and get to the line in the closing seconds. He finished with 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Lin had just five points on 1-for-13 shooting and four turnovers in the second half.
Kevin Love had 32 points and 21 rebounds for the Wolves, who missed two chances to win the game in the final five seconds.
The Knicks trailed by seven with 6:41 to play and it looked as if a week of Tebow-like hype was finally catching up to Lin. But the Wolves only scored one field goal the rest of the way, and the Knicks hung in there.
Playing yet again without the injured Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who was mourning the death of his brother, Landry Fields scored 19 on 8-for-10 shooting and Iman Shumpert added 20 points.
Fields hit a short jumper to make the score 94-93 with 2:10 to go and Shumpert added another for a 95-94 lead with 1:22 to go to give them their first lead since early in the second quarter.
But Love, who had 31 points and 31 rebounds in win over the Knicks last year, hit two free throws and Rubio drove to the rim for a left-handed layup for a three-point lead with 39 seconds to play.
Novak’s 3-pointer tied it at 98 on the next possession and Lin and Bill Walker each hit free throws to seal it for the Knicks, who scored 29 points on 23 Minnesota turnovers.
The matchup of two of the most dynamic young point guards in the league made this an extremely hot ticket. The Timberwolves had to sell standing-room only tickets to pack in an announced crowd of 20,232, the largest crowd here since 2004.
Lin and Rubio have each energized dormant franchises in their own way.
Rubio is the Spanish spitfire who has passed his way into the hearts of fans and teammates, one no-look assist at a time.
With him on the trigger, the Wolves are talking about the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett led them to the Western Conference finals in 2004.
His unselfish play and flair for the dramatic have made the Wolves cool again, as evidenced by the fifth sellout this season.
His European roots have made the Timberwolves a global commodity, but that’s nothing compared to what Lin has done in New York.
The Knicks were lost at 8-15, with rumors of Mike D’Antoni’s job security swirling before the coach moved to Lin out of desperation.
All he’s done since is re-ignite a basketball-loving city’s enthusiasm for the game, help fill the league’s void in Asia after Yao Ming’s retirement and save the Knicks’ season.
He scored 89 points in his first three starts, including an incredible 38 to beat the Lakers in the Garden on Friday night.
In his fourth start, Lin is already drawing the casual fan even in road games. He was cheered heartily in pregame introductions and gave the curious crowd exactly what it was looking for. His quickness gave Rubio fits on defense and he scored in every manner imaginable.
There was the crossover of Luke Ridnour and step-back jumper, a tear-drop drive into the lane and stutter-step blow-by for two, and that was just in a three-minute stretch of the first quarter.
NOTES: The Timberwolves wore Minnesota Muskies uniforms in tribute to the ABA team that spent one season here in 1967. “I’m still trying to figure out what a Muskie is,” F Anthony Tolliver said. … The Wolves in-house DJ played Whitney Houston songs during halftime after news of the singer’s death at 48.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.