Unlike the previous Lin miracles, tonights victory was a struggle throughout the game. Minnesota is a good, deep team and their depth hurt the Knicks tonight. Derrick Williams and JJ Barea hurt the Knicks tonight coming off the T’Wolves bench. Jeremy Lin struggled in the 2nd half but still finished with 20 points and 8 assists. With the Knicks trailing, Steve Novak hit a clutch 3 to tie the game before the Knicks bore down defensively and won the game on a Lin free throw.
Here are my notes from the game:
- This win speaks volumes about Lin. Tonight, Jeremy Lin was not the unstoppable force he has been over the past 4 games. Lin played a strong first half before struggling mightily in the 2nd half. I don’t think Lin played poorly in the 2nd but he struggled to find his legs offensively. There were multiple times where Lin got to the rim and failed to get the extra roll on his layups. Fatigue plagued Lin the entire second half but I was extremely impressed by his heart and desire to come back again and again and again. Yes he finished 8/24 but he did not settle for a bunch of jump shots. Lin continued to attack the rim in the 2nd half but he was unable to get his legs underneath him. I loved his game tonight in that he gave 110% effort even when he wasn’t at his best. Give credit to Minnesota as well. They defended the pick and roll very well and Ricky Rubio did an outstanding job of taking away any space that Lin had to operate. I was also incredibly impressed with Rubio. I knew he would dazzle offensively with his ball handling and passing abilities but I had no idea he was capable of playing this kind of defense. He really beat Lin up and hounded him tonight. Overall, Lin still overcame his fatigue and a quality opponent to lead the Knicks to a great victory. This was the worst performance of his 4 starts but Lin was still mightily impressive. Here is video of his game winning free throw:
- Shumpert was fantastic tonight. Iman Shumpert had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points and recording 6 steals in 29 minutes. It looks like Shump is beginning to find his legs again as he did look very explosive going to the hoop tonight. The rookie guard also looked to have more pep in his jump shot as he was 2/4 from downtown. Without Shumpert’s all around great game tonight, the Knicks do not pull that game out. Fantastic effort by him tonight.
- Do I even need to talk about Bill Walker? This is what I want to do sometimes…
- They went to… Steve! Stevie Novak played a clutch game down the stretch. He hit a three with 36 seconds left to tie the game up of the Knicks. He also hit a three at the 3 minute mark to move the Knicks to within three. I think he has definitely bought himself some rotation minutes when the stars return because he is the best 3 point shooter on this team right now. The Knicks were weak again from downtown, this time shooting 7/19. While 7/19 is an improvement from where they have been lately, the Knick starters were 0/6 from downtown tonight. Novak will need to continue to shoot well in order for the Knicks to keep winning. I believe he will.
- Landry Fields played well tonight. He caught the turnover bug late in the game, but up until then he played a solid game. D’Antoni’s offensive game plan worked early as Fields got to the rim and scored 7 of the Knicks first 11 points. I thought he did a nice job defensively and he even showed some efficient play in the post tonight. Fields is 6’7 and he is a big bodied guy. He should be able to post up on 90% of guards in the NBA. Tonight he had a hight mismatch on Luke Ridnour and he took advantage. Great job tonight by Landry on offense, he just has to cut down on the turnovers.
- Tonight, Tyson Chandler struggled mightily. Chandler only recorded 7 rebounds tonight and was badly outplayed by Minnesota grizzly bear of a center Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic killed the Knicks with 21 points and 13 rebounds tonight, including 6 offensive boards. Obviously this is just one game for Chandler but he really played poorly tonight and was dominated by Pekovic. Chandler also picked up his 7th technical of the season. If he is T’d up 6 more times this season, he will serve a one game suspension.
- The Knicks are expected to welcome back Amar’e Stoudemire Monday and he is expected to play on Tuesday in Toronto. The Knicks did a phenomenal job of compensating for the absence of their stars this week. The Knicks were 4-0 this week without Melo and STAT and are on a 5 game winning streak. The Knicks had their best week of the season and I am interested to see how they can play with STAT back in the lineup.