INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Whatever Mike Woodson is doing, it’s working.
Jeremy Lin scored 19 points to help the New York Knicks defeat the Indiana Pacers 102-88 on Saturday night and improve to 3-0 under Woodson, the team’s interim coach.
The Knicks have won by an average of 23.7 points since Woodson took over for Mike D’Antoni. New York defeated the Pacers 115-100 on Friday night in New York, and that followed a 42-point victory against Portland in Woodson’s first game as coach.
Lin said there hasn’t been a major shift in the team’s approach. The team looks to the post on offense a bit more, but that’s about the only difference.
“I just think it’s we have all 15 guys right now on the same page buying in, and that’s the biggest thing, is that we’re playing together. I don’t think there’s any major changes philosophically from a coaching standpoint,” he said.
Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire said the messenger matters.
“Coach Woodson, he’s more of — he’s a player’s coach,” Stoudemire said. “It’s a matter of us as players playing hard for him and trying to get these wins.”
Woodson returned the praise, crediting his team for picking up its defensive intensity.
“Our hearts are right in it, and it was a total team effort,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team than I am tonight. I happen to have a great group of guys and a talented bunch. We just have to keep them playing at a high level. If we do that, we have a chance.”
Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony each scored 16 points and J.R. Smith added 11 for the Knicks.
It was just New York’s eighth road win of the season, but in many ways, it wasn’t a road contest.
Lin, NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, made it seem almost like a Knicks home game. Hundreds of mostly Asian fans arrived an hour early and surrounded the visitor’s entrance to catch a glimpse of their hero, many wearing his No. 17 jersey. During the game, he got the loudest cheers. Lin, who is still adjusting to the enormous amount of attention he has received, was taken aback.
Old-school Pacers like Reggie Miller might have lost their lunches hearing a Knicks player draw cheers in Indiana.
But then again, Miller never faced Linsanity.
“I think it was a little crazier here than it normally is,” Lin said. “That’s cool. I didn’t know I had any fans in Indiana.”
Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Paul George scored 18 points and Darren Collison added 15 points for Indiana, which made just 4 of 15 shots in the fourth quarter.
“Our offense just isn’t working,” Indiana forward Danny Granger, who was held to 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting, said. “We’re not getting the job done. Our goal is to win games, and we’re not going to win games this way. I don’t have an answer. All we have to do is play and try to play through it.”
Back-to-back three-point plays by Hibbert cut New York’s lead to 72-70. The Knicks held on and led 77-74 at the end of the third quarter. Indiana forced the Knicks into 3-for-13 shooting and six turnovers in the third quarter. Hibbert scored 12 points in the period.
Lin scored on an awkward-looking floater, then made a jumper on the next possession to push New York’s lead back to 86-79. Pacers coach Frank Vogel was issued a technical foul and Anthony made the free throw to push the Knicks’ lead to eight.
New York pulled away from there, leading by as many as 16 points. Lin had eight points in the fourth quarter.
New York led 60-51 at halftime and pushed its lead to 14 early in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Stoudemire, but Indiana cut its deficit to nine on a 3-pointer by George. Another 3, this one from George Hill, cut New York’s lead to 70-64 before the Knicks regained control.
The Knicks, who often have folded this season when times got tough, fought through their struggles.
“We dug down today,” Lin said. “We had a horrible defensive first quarter and recovered and came back with a little more energy and a little more focus.”
The Knicks finally are playing with the urgency of a team that wants to extend its season. They have a half-game lead for the eighth playoff spot in the East.
“We know how important this game was for us,” Stoudemire said. “This Indiana team has been playing well this season. We’re still looking to make our mark. We’re still looking to improve in the playoff standings.”
Notes: Knicks G Baron Davis sat out with a strained right groin. … Knicks G Toney Douglas missed the game for personal reasons. … Indiana F/C Jeff Foster was out with a sore lower back. He has missed 10 of the past 11 games. … New Pacers G Leandro Barbosa was inactive.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)