Point Guard Jeremy Lin checked into the New York Knicks game against the New Jersey Nets Saturday night with 3:35 left in the first quarter. There was little expected of him. Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni even said as much. But the performance Lin would explode for, a career-high 25 points on 10-19 shooting, a career-high 7 assists, with 5 rebounds, and 2 steals, may have saved D’Antoni’s job.
In what I thought was a move that dripped with desperation, D’Antoni decided to start Lin Monday night versus the Utah Jazz in a game that wouldn’t include Knicks Power Forward Amar’e Stoudemire, who travelled to Florida after the untimely death of his older brother in a car accident. This seemed to set Lin up for failure. I thought there was no way that he could perform as well as he did Saturday night. I was right. He performed even better. In his first career NBA start, Lin responded with a new career high of 28 points on 10-17 shooting, a new career high 8 assists, with two rebounds and two steals. (He also had eight turnovers.)
Knicks Head Coach D’Antoni had numerous positive things to say after Lin’s breakout performance Saturday. “He played really well. He has a rhyme and reason for what he is doing. He can give us something we can’t do without. You have to give him credit. He is the one who convinced me to play him.” When asked what impressed him most about Lin’s performance, D’Antoni responded “his composure. He missed three or four wide open shots and we were struggling. Without a lot of experience, that could have rattled a lot of people. But he kept taking it again. That showed a lot of mental toughness.”
New Jersey Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson discussed Lin after the game as well. “Lin came in and hurt us off the bench. We tried to give him different looks on our pick-and-roll coverage, and he just had a terrific game. He did a nice job of getting inside our defense. When you have a guy coming off your bench like that and getting 25 points, it’s pretty deflating.”
Knicks All-Star Starting Forward Carmelo Anthony praised the play of Lin as well. “He won the game for us. He picked us up offensively. Defensively we fed off his energy tonight. Down the stretch, we put the ball in his hands. I don’t think they really knew how to play him in the pick-and-roll.”
Knicks Head Coach Mike D’Antoni has not been fired. The Knicks seem to have found themselves a point guard off the bench not named Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby, or Toney Douglas. And it all began at the 3:35 mark of the first quarter on Saturday, February 4, 2012 with the entrance of Jeremy Lin.
Watch the video below to see what Jeremy Lin himself had to say.