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Suddenly, Not So ‘Linsane’ To Think Knicks Could Contend For NBA Title

(credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

(credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Linsanity lives!

And now the title talk begins.

Forget the off night that had NBA fans worldwide wondering if the Jeremy Lin story was too good to be true. It’s still plenty good, all right. The Harvard sensation was back at his whirling ways Sunday, and the stage couldn’t have been better — against the defending champions on national TV.

“I’m loving the fact that I really feel the team I’m on now can really contend,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said, according to the New York Post. “The additions now, we’re a full team. We’re very deep in every position. It wasn’t like that when I first came here. We have all those pieces filled now.”

One the biggest pieces right now is Lin.

Hours after the opening of “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the Lin phenomenon, the point guard had 28 points and a career-high 14 assists to carry the Knicks to a 104-97 victory that ended the Dallas Mavericks’ six-game winning streak.

“Looking back, it’s like I was watching them win the championship last year, and that’s obviously where this team wants to go,” Lin said.

“This is helpful to us, not just to me but to us, just to be able to see where our team can go and what we can become, and I think that’s the biggest takeaway from tonight,” he said.

Lin already owns the highlights and headlines, and now he has some new admirers after bouncing back from a nine-turnover performance against lowly New Orleans by dominating a Dallas defense that made even LeBron James look ordinary in the NBA finals.

After the final buzzer, Lin got a hug from a fellow Bay Area product, and someone who knows a thing or two about playing the point — Mavs star Jason Kidd.

He looks a little bit like Steve Nash out there,” Kidd said, referring to the two-time MVP of the Phoenix Suns.

In a game of wild momentum swings, the Knicks reeled off 17 straight points in the first quarter, fell behind by 12 in the third, then pulled it out to beat the Mavericks for only the third time in the last 20 meetings.

“I think they found something in Lin, and they’re starting to piece together a team that can beat anyone,” Mavs guard Jason Terry said.

Steve Novak also delivered for the Knicks. He scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, including four 3s. J.R. Smith scored 15 points in his Knicks debut as New York won for the eighth time in nine games.

Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 34 points for the Mavericks, who had been playing championship-level defense but became the latest team who couldn’t stop Lin.

“I was talking to them before the game and they were saying they had an answer for Lin,” said Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who played for the Mavs last season, “I guess they were dead wrong on their scouting report.”

The Mavs came in holding opponents to an NBA-low 41.4 percent shooting. They were limiting teams to 39.2 percent during the winning streak, but the Knicks carved them up for 54 percent in the first quarter as Lin ran the offense flawlessly.

Lin actually started his NBA career with the Mavs’ summer league team in 2010. But owner Mark Cuban said Lin preferred to play closer to home, and he signed with the Warriors, who cut him, as did Houston in December. The Knicks claimed him off waivers.

“It wasn’t luck because there were how many other teams that could have signed Jeremy and the Knicks were the ones who went out and got him,” Cuban said. “So they saw something and they were smart enough to go out and get him.”

Friday’s loss may have ended the Knicks’ winning streak, but certainly not the buzz around Lin. Sunday’s crowd included Kevin Costner, Eva Longoria, Spike Lee — wearing Lin’s No. 4 Harvard jersey — and another famous Harvard product, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg. Lin’s high school coach from Palo Alto (Calif.) High School also made the trip.

Do you think the Knicks are legitimate title contenders? Sound off below…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)