Like DangerZone said, the Knicks just pulled off a heist in Minnesota. A badly short-handed lineup finally seemed to catch up to New York's performance, as they played from behind almost the whole way and looked out of it several times. But after Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic led the Timberwolves to 57 percent shooting, a massive rebounding advantage and an eight-point edge in the first half, a combination of tighter Knick defense and horrid Minnesota shooting prevented the Wolves from running away with the game in the second.
Jeremy Lin, looking visibly exhausted, played a solid first half but hit a wall in the second half against the best defense he's faced so far. Ricky Rubio and friends gave him all different looks, trapping him, forcing him left, and preventing him from getting clean attempts in the paint without giving fouls. They forced Lin into one-for-many shooting and a ton of turnovers in the latter two quarters, including a lot of nice drives that ended with short-armed shots or not enough lift to draw contact. Kid was beat, and he played like it.
In Lin's stead, the Knicks got massive contributions from Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert. Fields did wonderful things driving diagonally and finishing right at the rim in the first half. Shumpert, after bad shooting and boneheaded plays early on, came up with some massive drives and pull-up jumpers later on. His mismatched strip of Kevin Love followed by a pull-up jumper the other way was crucial, putting the Knicks up one with just a minute and change remaining.
Actually, in a game that got pretty hideous in both directions, the Knicks executed pretty nicely down the stretch. The Knicks fell back down by three following all that Shumping, but ran a perfect two-for-one possession with over 30 seconds left, as Lin hit Steve Novak for a spot-up three-pointer to tie it. After that, the Knicks hassled Ricky Rubio into consecutive turnovers, hit a couple of free throws (missed some, too), and benefited from a bad final shot by Kevin Love.
'Twas a surprisingly gritty end to a magical run of wins without Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. For once, the Knicks were on the winning end of a "tale of two halves" type game. Minnesota missed one big shot after another, and the Knicks hung around, hung around, hung around, then struck and snatched a win in the final two minutes. Definitely not familiar ground, but a welcome departure from what we're used to.
New York's got two much-needed days off before they play in Toronto with Amar'e back in the lineup. Rest up, gentlemen!