Lin Shows Knicks What They’re Lacking




NEW YORK – Jeremy Lin returned to Madison Square Garden on Monday. New York fans gave him a great ovation when he was introduced and then booed him when he touched the ball. The loudest crowd noise of the night came when he airballed a 3-pointer late in the second quarter.

“It was great to be back and playing on that court again,” Lin said after his Rockets handed the Knicks their first home loss of the season. “I had fun out there. I’m thankful to the fans. A lot of people showed out and supported and wore my old jersey. I am still thankful for the fans and it was a lot better than I had thought.”

The night wasn’t quite as electric as it could have been though, because the Knicks played without Carmelo Anthony (sprained ankle), because the game was essentially over by the end of the third quarter, and because the early-season performances of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have already softened the blow of losing Lin in July. But while the Knicks are better off without Lin this season, he did help show them where they still have some work to do.

The funny thing about the Linsanity phenomenon that captured New York 10 months ago is that the Knicks’ success over those magical 26 games was more about defense than it was about Lin’s points and assists.

Lin certainly had a marvelous run, averaging 18.5 points and 7.7 dimes over those 26 games, but the Knicks were still just an average offensive team in that stretch. Defensively, however, they were excellent.

Linsanity was about more than just basketball, of course. But it wouldn’t have reached the heights it did if the Knicks weren’t winning games. And they wouldn’t have won games if they weren’t getting stops. Remember those 38 points Lin scored against the Lakers? The Knicks won that game 92-85. Remember that game-winner in Toronto? The final score of that one was 90-87.

Right now, the Knicks are a bad defensive team, one that couldn’t contain Lin or James Harden off the dribble on Monday, allowing 52 points in the paint in a 109-96 loss to the Rockets at Madison Square Garden.

Though the Knicks were clearly missing Anthony, Lin appropriately pointed to another absence as critical.

“They’re not their full team,” Lin said after the game. “They’re missing very key guys. And I think right at the top of the list is Shump. He’s definitely a difference maker.”

Iman Shumpert, the Knicks’ best perimeter defender last season, is still rehabbing from knee surgery. But the Knicks can’t wait for his return to turn things around defensively. They’ve been able to get by thus far — they still lead the Eastern Conference at 18-6 — with a historically potent offense. They’re easily the most improved offensive team in the league this year. But they’ve also taken a big step backward on the other end of the floor. And when the threes aren’t falling, they don’t have a top-five defense to fall back on like they did last season.

It was the Knicks’ improved defense that helped them win six of the seven Lin-led games that Anthony missed last February. And it was the Knicks’ regressed defense that allowed Lin’s Rockets to score 240 points in two meetings over the last month.

It was the Knicks’ defense that allowed Lin to play one of his better games this season on Monday, scoring 22 points and dishing out eight assists. It was the Knicks’ defense that failed to get back in transition, allowing 25 Houston fast-break points, including several after made baskets. And it was the Knicks’ defense that allowed Lin and Harden to comfortably coexist.

“Tonight I think we complemented each other really well,” Lin said. “We took a big step in the right direction in figuring it out.”

The Knicks don’t have to worry about Lin and Harden anymore. But they certainly have to figure some things out themselves. With or without Anthony, their defense has seriously regressed over the last few weeks, allowing over 106 points per 100 possessions over the last 15 games, a rate that would rank as a bottom-five defense this season.

“The defense wasn’t there tonight,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and get some practice time under our belt when we can try to correct it.”

No, the Knicks don’t need Jeremy Lin anymore. But they do need to remember what Linsanity was all about.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

37 Comments

  1. NBAfan says:

    Lin is tall and deceptively strong and fast I think…he is obviously smart as a player…he has lots to work on but also enough potential to be a starting pg in the league….allstar? only if he gets voted in…..important player for any team he plays for…yes!

  2. cpcheung says:

    Tyson Chandler is a hypocrite! Hugging Lin and knocking him down. I have never seen such contraditary acts from one person!

  3. Hello says:

    Missed Carmelo? Copeland scored 29..

  4. John says:

    If the Knicks were in the Western Conference , they would not have as good a record. Weak East.

    • vern says:

      “IF” is the main word. It’s not their fault the east is weak, it’s not like they have a choice of where they play. Bottom line is they’re in the east and leading the pack.

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  6. Game Time says:

    At the end of the season NY will be trying to make a playoff run while Houston wil be fishing.

  7. CG says:

    Knicks are lacking in a number of areas: 1. Attacking the Paint, 2. Rebounding, 3. Blocking, 4. and now, Free-Throws, and the biggest one, 5. DEFENSE. If they only realize that with the talent they have and with those things, no-one would be able to touch them. I love you Knicks, but WAKE UP.

  8. cp10 says:

    10-0 at home & eventually they’ll lose one, to whomever really

    • NBAfan says:

      you’re right..and this whomever is the Rockets with Lin in it….

      Don’t boil every single thing down to logic and stats…you really think it was JUST ANOTHER game for Lin?

  9. Fischella Jones says:

    I am missing the time Linsanity were in MSG, for a long while I couldn’t figure out why Knicks just let him go~ so sad~ so unbelievable

  10. Sandy Tsai says:

    Yes, right. Knicks lost not only a talented, aggressive player but also a modest ,cooperative player who is easy to get along with, love to smile, faithful ,too many never happened in nba.

  11. falconcruzer says:

    The hard clean foul by Chandler on Lin – sent a message from the Knicks leader to everyone. Enough with the past, we like (even miss) you but NOW we’re opponents, let’s move on. All smiles after getting up quickly from Lin, well done by both athletes – I actually liked that.

    • uoykcuf says:

      That’s 80s basketball. Hard foul, meh. It’s all good and I am going to keep coming to the paint.

  12. Reblogged this on Courtside Convo and commented:
    “Lin Shows Knicks What They’re Lacking” WOW.

  13. Flavio says:

    who do people keep mentioning that r felton is better than j lin ? felton has many years NBA experience than jeremy for gawd sakes ! wait till lin add 2-3 years with rockets and watch his development . he is an intelligent player who will improve his game further while felton is on the downside….

  14. bu says:

    Under Woodson, the players are more accountable & we even saw Melo diving for the ball!! The defensive intensity is much better. Meanwhile, they hv one of the most potent individual offensive players & they take advantage of this to win some games in regular season. The real test is in 2nd half & playoffs when all the teams are tuning to the playoff style bball that is about 1/2 court offensive execution as well as defense.

    Playing beside ball hog Harden is not easy for Lin & he pick his spots to score & distribute. Clearly he has good EQ & basketball brains. He also cut down a lot on his turnovers so clearly maturing. It’d be so wild to see Houston overachieve with this super young team like this, and playing entertaining ball.

  15. Luiz Nunes says:

    :) Give Lin a break… the Knicks was dying when he came in, and revive the franchise! Sure NY would be better with him, just look how he runned over them last night.
    Lin rules!

  16. falconcruzer says:

    run and gun vs. half-court game, this time run and gun pummeled the opposition. They need Melo for the half-court game to work.
    I think Lin could’ve been more agressive and his mid-long-range shots need more consistency, once he does, he will be hard to stop.
    His main game is making good decisions with the ball, he did that well last night

  17. tim says:

    Great job Jeremy!! IMHO the Knicks organization hung him out to dry last year. Instead of offering him a solid deal up front like they should have, they told him to find his value, all the while telling other teams they would match any offer to keep his value low. Houston saw value in him, and when the Knicks couldn’t match their offer, they used the media (ie. SAS) to demean Jeremy.

  18. nbafan91 says:

    So are you basically saying Linsanity was only about defense? I mean sure they had a quality defense, but it’s bit of a stretch to say that the most part of Linsanity was about defense.

  19. Reggie says:

    Peace out Jeremy Lin and good riddance. Knicks are much better without him but I wish him success in Houston. Which I don’t think he will ever experience in terms of winning because the west is stacked.

  20. najoyiscool says:

    Actually you people are correft. Numbers don’t lie. 109-96.

  21. Wuddup says:

    Yea they’re missing Carmelo.

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  23. Jimbo says:

    Rediculous contract? NAH!

  24. uoykcuf says:

    Again, even if houston won I had to say this. Lin needs the ball in his hand and cannot co-exist with harden.

  25. 5injuries says:

    You guys are really overlooking this, the Knicks have so many injuries the 2 games they played vs the Rockets.

    Amare, Melo, Camby, Wallace, Shump… Those are 3 starters in that lineup also. You can say whatever you want about this game, our 2nd and 3rd string players couldn’t beat a healthy rockets team… big surprise!

    Hopefully we get healthy soon, no more losing to sub .500 teams.

  26. Regular Season Show... says:

    Good game for Lin, Harden, and the Rockets.. Nice way to win the game in the Garden! Even better, nice shot at Melo, we all know he can’t spell Defense without a few errors.. Even if he was able to play I think the Rockets would have won the game… The knicks look great in the regular season this year minus the Defense.. I’m thinking they will fall out of the Playoffs just as they did last year if not faster because they don’t seem to really play D… Until they fix it, they are somewhat wasting their time with wins and looking good during the Reg. season.

  27. Melvin says:

    Did Tyson admired Metta World Peace?
    Elbow in NY LOL~

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  30. Danny says:

    I have a lot of respect for Jeremy Lin for doing what he did last season, but I still think he has a lot to prove to be a top tier starting point guard in this league. I would definitely take Raymond Felton over Lin any day. The Knicks obviously missed Carmelo, and Iman Shumpert is going to be a huge gain for this team. What I’m wondering is how Amare will help (or hurt) these Knicks…

  31. bajoy says:

    go jeremy lin! nevermind your childish critics