In the words of Amar’e Stoudemire, “How about those Knicks, huh?”
The New York Knicks continue their winning ways, beating closest rival Milwaukee Bucks, 89-90 at the Madison Square Garden Monday night.
The win came despite the absence of Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, who were both DND’s due to injuries. Lin sat out because of a sore right knee, while Stoudemire’s back is bothering again, although he cleared doubts that he will be great affected by the recurring injury.
Carmelo Anthony led the team with 28 points and 12 boards, while Baron Davis took over the guard position with 13 points and 7 assists. This is the first time that ‘Melo was the leading scorer in a win by New York under Woodson, signifying a big change in his playing and i New York’s system. Mike Dunleavy was the leading scorer for the Bucks with 26 points, while the expected stars Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh combined for a measly 10 points.
The win pushed New York a little further away from Milwaukee in the standings, further boosting their hold on spot number 8 in the East standings. The Bucks trail the Knicks by 2 1/2 games, still a close race to get the last slot in the playoff bid. Thus far, only the Chicago Bulls have clinched a playoff spot in the league, with 40 wins and 11 losses.
The Knicks have won 7 of their las 8 games since Woodson took over the coaching job from Mike D’Antoni.
Linsanity may have simmered down a bit. But the Knicks are just starting to sizzle again.
And hopefully, for the remainder of the season.
The New York Knicks have just earned their fourth straight win under interim coach Mike Woodson, beating the Toronto Raptors, 106-87 at the Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 22 points and 12 boards, while Jeremy Lin also had double-double figure with 18 points and 10 assists. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler each chipped in 17 points for the Knicks, who are perfect in four games since Woodson took over as interim tactician.
So what happened to the Knicks since four games ago?
I did a researching on my own and I found out the following statistics:
– The Knicks have improved defensively, as far as allowing their opponents to score points is concerned. They have beaten their opponents by an average of 22.5 points, and have only allowed one team to score 100 in the last four games (against Indiana, 115-100). Amar’e Stoudemire has improved in getting rebounds, and Tyson Chandler has resumed his duties of shutting down opponents under the basket. They have also picked their opponents’ pockets 11 times a game in four games;
– Another defensive improvement they’ve made is in their rebounding. They have been averaging 44 rebounds per game in the last four games, an improvement of at least 5 boards on average compared to the 39 rebounds they averaged in the six losses they incurred prior to this four-game win streak. The only time they outrebounded a team that won over them was on their road game against Dallas, 51-46 (that’s because Dirk Nowitzki exploded from out of nowhere to carry Dallas behind his back for the win);
– The Knicks have been sharing the ball now (finally!). They have been averaging 24 assists per game, which might seem a normal stat. But a close look at the stats would reveal that that figure is shared by everybody, meaning on any given night, each Knick player that have stepped on the court to play has assisted the ball at least once in the minutes he logged in. There were only two nights where at most four players had no assists;
– Notice that in the last four games, Carmelo Anthony has not been the highest scoring player among the starters. If that means anything, well, the ball-hogging has finally stopped. Anthony has also upped his assist stats, meaning he has now allowed himself to be a channel rather than a container for the offense. What used to be a predictable offensive system has now been efficiently revamped into a deadlier one by improving ‘Melo’s part in the team’s ball rotation system;
– Lin has been turning the ball over lesser than average. He started out with six infractions in their game against Portland. Now, he’s only averaging 3 per game. There was a game he only had two. Either he’s improved ball handling, or that other point guards have been having better touches on the ball (Davis, Fields, Shumpert, et al), has been working just fine for them;
– To prove that Woodson’s system of isolation play was not really hinged on ‘Melo, he has reduced Anthony’s playing minutes by an average of 5 minutes per game. Since then, ‘Melo has had a fresher body when he steps on the court, making him still offensively potent, but defensively significant as well. Anthony may not be the center of the limelight anymore in the last four games, but believe it or not, that has been doing wonders for them. Still, ‘Melo can be explosive at times, especially when he’s at the receiving end of Jeremy Lin’s assists;
All these would be put to the test again, when the Knicks visit Philadelphia tomorrow night. This will be second road game for New York in five nights, and the second against a higher-echelon team.
And hopefully, the rise will continue on.
Was it just coincidence that two of the brightest and rising stars that we particularly featured in this blog… are fading?
I’m talking about the sudden drop that the New York Knicks have experienced since Linsanity happened, and the season-ending injury incurred by Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio. As of this writing, the Knicks are playing away from home against current MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, hoping snap a five-game slide since All-Star break. The Wolves, on the other hand, will be hoping for a savior in some other form than the young Spanish phenom, whose ACL was torn during a game against the Lakers.
But let’s be clear on one thing though–we’re not consigning the bright futures of these two stars to the flames already. All we’re saying is that just when things were hyping up for them, all of a sudden, something devastating, or at the very least frustrating, comes along their way to dampen the prospects of a good career ahead of them. With the effect of the lockout already limiting these two guys some playing time to shine brightest, they still have to tackle the pressure put on them, whether consciously or subconsciously, by their fans and franchises, as well as the growing stiff competition as the season nears playoff mode.
Perhaps what we, and all of these two players’ fans, are concerned about is that the timing can’t be worse, and that peaking for them might have come way too early. If only they did not flash the brilliant performances that they did early into the season, there wouldn’t be much regret or frustration in the part of their followers and respective teams. But with all of these happening, all of us wishing for a happy ending for Lin and Rubio are suddenly snapped back to reality–a reality that reminds us how fairly unfair basketball life can be.
But hoping is still and will always be allowed for us. And so we hope. Hope that just as things turned from good to bad, it will take a reversal of fortunes. Otherwise, we’ll need to look up to the skies once more for new stars to discover.
You must have seen those movies where a bench-warming player of a stinking basketball team stumbles upon a magical pair of rubber shoes, tries them on, and all of a sudden, becomes an overnight all-star phenomena on the basketball court.
And so, for lack of a really logical explanation, this fictional storyline might sell as the reason for Jeremy Lin’s amazing rise.
Just now Lin and the Knicks won their fifth straight game, 100-98 over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite the low percentage by Lin tonight, shooting only 8-for-24, he still led the team with 20 points and 8 assists. After eclipsing a classic performance by Kobe Bryant, Lin has seemingly now taken the attention of the world away from Ricky Rubio, who was on the other end of the court against him tonight. Rubio only scored 12 and made 8 assists.
In just one week, Lin has swept the basketball world unlike anyone has done in the history of the league. Officially, Lin now has a record of his own, the player with the highest cumulative points in his first three games as a starter for any team. From being an anonymous, Lin now has 179,000+ followers in Twitter. Fans at Madison Square Garden have made cut-out masks of his face. His image is now the banner for the official website of the New York Knicks. Soon, jerseys bearing his name and number will be selling hot like pancakes. And writers like me will be haggling for new ways to give him a cool monicker.
But if his amazing play isn’t impressing you, his character should. A professing Christian, Lin’s motto in his twitter account is “to know Him and to make Him known.” During an interview, Lin said that he wanted to become a pastor or a missionary to a foreign field. And his actions actually speak louder than his words. You will never hear him bragging about his recent feats, but instead offering praises and admiration for everyone surrounding him. He maintains a low profile life, not really excited much about the limelight of the fame he had just recently earned. For all its worth, Lin’s egotistic behavior is as small as his surname.
These days, Madison Square Garden has become an exciting arena once again, thanks to their new legend. New Yorkers now have a reason to be happy once more.
And perhaps kids have more reason now to suspect their rubber shoes could be magical.
My wife was telling me just earlier how impressed she is with Jeremy Lin. I wondered a bit, because she never really gets to catch the NBA games at all, and so I asked her what made her say that.
“He got you to blogging again!” she said.
And she’s definitely right.
Ever since I came home from my two-month trip abroad, I needed to settle myself once again with the grind of my life here. And so it took me this long to finally bolt out of my hiatus and finally start blogging away. And believe it or not, this flatline would have persisted a few more weeks had this week not happened for Jeremy Lin.
That’s because nobody really paid serious attention to Jeremy Lin before this week.
And for a few good reasons why, actually: he was undrafted from Harvard, a school whose last representative to the NBA was 58 years ago. He only played 29 games in 2010 for the Golden State Warriors. In that season, he only averaged 2.6 points per game and 1.4 assists, in a team that had Steph Curry commanding the floor. He has been in and out of the NBA D-League, a more tactful way of saying ‘you’re not yet an asset for our team. Get to learn some more.’ And he is just another Knick player, lost in the scramble to fight for time in a team that had Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, the two perceived deliverers of the slumping franchise.
When Anthony went down with an injury, and Stoudemire out due to family reasons, the Knicks seemed to have consigned the remainder of the season to the flames. Coach Mike D’Antoni must have been drafting already a resignation speech just in case someone in the higher ups thought of sacking him as coach. And the team was in a miserable standing at 8-15.
This was the world when Jeremy Lin was chosen to start for New York.
And then everything changed.
Since Lin started for New York, they have won all four games. It all started for Lin on February 4, 2012, when he first played as a New York starter, scoring 25 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, and dishing out 7 assists (against only 1 turnover) in a 99-92 Knicks victory over the Nets. Proving it was no fluke, Lin had 28 points and eight assists vs. Utah on the 6th of February, topping the previous high he attained.Two nights later against Washington, Lin had 23 points and 10 assists.
On the eve of the Knicks’ game against the LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant made it very clear–he did not recognize Jeremy Lin and what he has done so far.
On February 10, 2012, Lin scored a new career high 38 points and had seven assists, leading the Knicks in their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers with a score of 92–85.
Kobe ended up eating his own words, replacing it with praises for the new kid on the block.
And, more importantly, he is a man of faith. He has a testimony of God’s grace upon his life, and that has been the basis of his humility and diligence when it comes to his career as a basketball player.
But, of course, we’re not pressuring the kid just yet–it’s been just four games as a starter for Lin, after all. One of these days, Lin will be every player’s target. Even still, we’ve already seen what this kid is and what he’s capable of. And for sure, it will just get better from that point on.
Be ready to thrilled by this thrill-Lin’ player!