He did it again. Linsanity part 2 took place at the garden Monday night as the Knicks knocked off the Utah Jazz 99-88. The new Knicks point guard scored a career high 28 points and recorded 8 assists on the night. More impressively, Lin performed like this without both Carmelo Anthony, who strained his groin in the 1st quarter, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who missed the game due to the death of his brother. In game, Tyson Chandler spent most his minutes on the bench as he was in foul trouble all night. Given the circumstances and the opponent, Utah coming off a win over the Lakers, I thought Lin’s performance tonight was more impressive than on Saturday night.
Here are some notes from the game, and to keep you reading I will address the Shao-lin point guard last:
- Give Jared Jeffries the credit he deserves. Due to his prior stint with the Knicks, in which he collected a 5 year 25 million dollar contract, and his lack of offensive prowess, Jared Jeffries is much maligned among Knick fans. That needs to stop. I have always been a fan off Jeffries because I think he impacts the game in a lot of ways. This season, he has helped me prove my case. He plays stellar defensively and his offensive game has improved this year. While only shooting 35% from the field, Jeffries has increased his free throw shooting greatly. He shot 42.1% from the line last year with the Knicks. This season, Jeffries has improved his free throw shooting up to 68.8%. That may not seem like a big deal but for a guy who rarely scores points, free throws are huge. Those are basically free points and this year he is getting the Knicks 26.7% more of those free points. He drew 5, count them 5, charges tonight against Utah and has been drawing them all season. Jeffries has been absolutely fantastic these last two games and has played very well this season. He isn’t a star and he’s not going to score but he has a role on this team and he plays it very well.
- No Melo. No STAT. No problem. Without the 2 superstars on the court tonight, the Knicks played with excellent spacing, continuity and ball movement. I’m not saying the Knicks are better without their two stars, because they aren’t, but they need to find a way to play like this with their stars on the floor. I really liked the un-selfishness the Knick players displayed tonight. With Lin running the show like a boss, all the Knicks were involved tonight. After Lin’s 28 points, the Knicks scoring was well balanced. 4 other Knicks scored in double figures and Jerome Jordan was the only Knick go to scoreless. I loved how everyone was involved and I hope to see it more.
- I love Landry Fields but he has to be worst alley-oop thrower I have ever seen. That being said, he played another solid game.
- Iman Shumpert seems to be falling off a bit. His legs do look to be letting him down a bit as his jump shot has not been successful as of late. He still plays very good defense and brings high energy but he has got to start scoring. This team is in dire strait for points and Shump has got to be one of the guys to step up. The emergence of Lin has kind of overshadowed the fact that the Knicks still have not had great point production. In both of the “Jeremy Lin” games, Melo and Amar’e have been relative (Stoudemire’s 17 pt game) non-factors. Stevie Novak gave the Knicks great minute tonight, scoring 19 points in 17 minutes, but the Knicks still need more collective scoring.
- Melo only played 6 minutes before he strained his groin. I have not read anything serious and I think he’ll be fine but nobody knows his exact status for Wednesday’s game in Washington.
- The refs seemingly get worse and worse. Chandler and Jeffries got some horrid fouls called against them and it almost cost the Knicks the game. Luckily the Knicks were able to hold off the Jazz long enough to where they could pull away in the 4th once their big men were on the court at once.
- Linsanity!!! Some of the most fun I have had watching the Knicks is watching Jeremy Lin play. His energy, his ability and his heart make the game so enjoyable. He put on another unbelievable performance tonight with his 28 point, 8 assist, 2 rebound, 2 steal game. More unbelievable is that he played 45 minutes without passing out. I think D’Antoni should have given him a break at some point but given the circumstances, not having Melo or STAT, and the flow of the game I do not blame him for not resting Lin. Without Lin tonight the Knicks lose that game by 20 points. He really was the difference in the game on both ends of the court. Obviously he did wonders offensively, and defensively he brought a lot of effort. Given the porous play of his backup, the embattled Toney Douglas, Lin had to play those 45 minutes to ensure a Knicks victory. That kid showed a lot of heart out there tonight. I thought he was about to collapse from fatigue late in the 3rd but he battled on and played the entire second half. Lin proved he not only can play but that he has heart and that he is tough. Only gamers play 45 minutes and bring the same energy at the end of the game that they brought in the beginning. Whether or not Lin pans out with the Knicks, I will always respect his heart and effort. Tonight was not about his 28 points and 8 rebounds. Tonight was not about Jeremy Lin the point guard. Tonight was about Jeremy Lin the man. Tonight was about the humble point guard who has captured the hearts of all Knick fans with his hustle and effort. Two traits that have been lacking at the garden for years (more to come on that tomorrow). Honestly if he had gone 2-10 shooting with 9 points and the Knicks had lost, I still would have been impressed. Sure I would have criticized him, and what Knick fan wouldn’t have?, but I would have still had good things to say. His finishing ability, agility or his high basketball IQ were impressive but I loved his heart tonight. Even when he misses a shot or turns the ball over, Lin always comes back with the same drive and effort as he did the possession before. He cares and he wants to win. This kid is a great rags to riches story in that he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Whether Lin pans out or not, I will always be impressed with the heart he has shown the past two games and how he has once again brought passion and energy to Madison Square Garden.