Knicks benchwarmer becomes a star

Knicks benchwarmer becomes a star

NEW YORK-The Associated Press
Knicks benchwarmer becomes a star

New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin is likely to be the biggest underdog story of the short NBA season as the guard flew from obscurity to stardom in only about a week. AP photo

Jeremy Lin came with an intriguing story even before he escaped the New York Knicks’ bench.

First American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. Harvard graduate. Nomad who crashed on a teammate’s couch when his brother’s place wasn’t available. In just one week, Lin’s proven he’s so much more. Turns out, he’s a terrific basketball player.

“The level he is playing at right now, I have never seen it,” Knicks forward Jared Jeffries said. “It is weird for a guy to come in and be a team leader who has bounced around like he has. He has inspired us to play harder because he gives it his all every day. There is nothing he doesn’t do on a daily basis.”
Lin scored a career-high 38 points on Feb. 10 to lead the Knicks to a 92-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. After scoring 28 and 23 in his first two NBA starts, he outplayed Kobe Bryant in front of a national TV audience, leaving delirious fans without their voices and his coach without the words to describe it.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Mike D’Antoni said. “I have never seen this. It’s not often that a guy is going to play four games, the best you are going to see, and nobody knows who he is. That is hard to do.”

Lin delivered again on Feb. 11, scoring 20 points and making a foul shot with 4.9 seconds left in a 100-98 win at Minnesota. He also had eight assists and six rebounds in the Knicks’ fifth straight victory.
Lin is drawing comparisons to Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, with the way he impacts his teammates during games and talks about his faith afterward.

Forget Tebowing. Linsanity is the new sports sensation.

“He’s been amazing,” Minnesota rookie Ricky Rubio, who knows a thing or two about reviving a franchise with dynamic point guard play, said before Saturday night’s game. “He’s playing well. He’s smart and a great kid. We’ll try to stop him.”

Lin was perhaps on his last chance, and maybe a last resort, when D’Antoni put him in last week against New Jersey. The Knicks had lost on the previous two nights to fall to 8-15, and another defeat that night would have dropped them behind the Nets in the standings and might have made the cries to fire D’Antoni even harder for team management to ignore.

Lin had slept on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before, still refusing to get his own place as he headed into the week the Knicks would have to decide whether to cut him or guarantee his contract for the rest of the season.

Lin scored 25 points that night, and D’Antoni promoted him to the starting lineup for the next game.
A sensation was born.

As fans screamed for Lin throughout Friday’s game, especially after a clutch three-pointer in the fourth
quarter, Madison Square Garden was again the place to be in the NBA.

“The excitement he has caused in the Garden, man, I hadn’t seen that in a long time,” Lakers Hall of
Famer Magic Johnson told The Associated Press. “When you get a spark like this, especially in a season like this, this could carry them for a long time.”

“I thought that the Garden was rocking, and it was a great atmosphere,” said the Lakers’ Metta World Peace, who grew up in New York as Ron Artest.

The Knicks began selling Lin merchandise on Feb. 10, and one souvenir stand on the concourse level ran out before the game even started. The NBA says Lin has been the top selling jersey online since last Feb. 4, and the Knicks are the top-selling team this week.

The only one who isn’t talking about Lin is the point guard himself, a spiritual and humble person who gives credit to God, D’Antoni and his teammates.

“When I’m on the court, I try to play with all my emotion and heart,” Lin said. “I just love the game, playing with this team and coach.”

Lin was waived by Golden State in December after splitting last season between the Warriors and the NBA Development League. Houston picked him up for a couple of weeks before cutting him, and the Knicks decided to give him a look.

New York had just waived its point guard, Chauncey Billups, to free up money to sign center Tyson Chandler. Three point guards couldn’t run D’Antoni’s offense, so the Knicks were stuck waiting on Baron Davis to recover from a herniated disk in his back.

Now there’s no rush for Davis. Not with Lin running D’Antoni’s offense better than anyone.
And creating a whole new vocabulary.

At the Garden, it’s Words with Lin instead of Words with Friends: Linderella; Lincredible; Super Lintendo; and of course, Linsanity, the Twitter trending word of choice.

Expect more puns as he continues to prove himself as a bona fide NBA player.

“He’s not a fluke,” Chandler said. “Just the confidence he plays with, the pace, the understanding of the game. You can tell when a guy isn’t really that skilled but is just having a good stretch. This guy is skilled.”

Hedo wins the battle of Turks

ORLANDO-The Associated Press

Turkish forward Hidayet “Hedo” Türkoğlu had 19 points while Jason Richardson scored 28 of his season-high 31 points in the second half and made nine 3-pointers to lead Orlando.

Ersan İlyasova, a Turkish international, had 17 points for the Bucks.

The Bucks limited Dwight Howard to 11 points and 14 rebounds, but had no defense for Richardson, who unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers in the second half that helped Orlando erase a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and pull ahead. His ninth three gave Orlando a 94-88 lead with 2:07 to go.
Richardson finished 9-for-11 from three-point range.

Orlando improved to 17-11 with the win, while Milwaukee (12-15) is one win behind Eastern Conference eighth New York Knicks.