Another game of the Jeremy Lin experience is behind us, and all we got was more kindling for the fire (the...Linferno, if you will. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm trying so hard not to pun). Lin had another terrific game and the Knicks' offense started terribly but blossomed through the latter three quarters. After that horrid first period, they established a lead in the second quarter and kept right on building it to the final buzzer. And, as Landry for prez said in the game thread (quoted in the headline), the experience brought all the mirth and excitement of being in a room with-- well, maybe not 100 puppies, but at least like 70-80. It was a lot of fun.
- Several guys had great nights, but we'll open with Lin. Early on, he was running plenty of pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler, but the Wizards brought weak side help, so Lin did the wise thing and kicked the ball out to the perimeter. Only problem was the guys on the perimeter were Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker and neither had any interest in sinking open jumpers. When Lin did try to take it himself, he ended up forcing a couple of bad shots. He sat with about four minutes left in the quarter, having picked up his second foul (and opened a nasty gash in his chin) trying to draw an open court charge on John Wall.
- After that, Lin was excellent. In the second quarter, those drive-and-kicks started going to Steve Novak on the weak side and saw much happier conclusions, which in turn opened up the inside options a bit. Lin got his first points by picking Jordan Crawford in the backcourt and streaking coast to coast, then continued to pile 'em on with some brilliant drives to the basket. We saw some savvy-ass hesitation dribbles, including one that created enough space and confusion to let Lin score right up and over JaVale McGee. In the third, he kept right on driving and had twelve more points, including these two that made my eyes and teeth fall out of my head:
Three things about that video:
1. As a lot of people have said, the kid's sense of when his defender is off balance is impeccable. Wall gambled for a split second and Lin crossed his shit UP and went right to the rim. Oh, and he can get up pretty high as well.
2. Yes, he had a band-aid half dangling half-stuck from his chin for most of the game.
3. We've been waiting for Lin to face a good defense that trapped him and helped on him and stuff, and the Wizards were not that team. At best, the Wiz gave token help. At worst, they pretty much assembled a step ladder to the basket.
Anyway, Lin did a superb job of getting to the basket, got to the line a bit, sank a couple of nifty bankers from short range, and kept bricking his three-point attempts. Oh, and he threw some very lovely passes, including many lobs and pinpoint feeds in the pick-and-roll and one gorgeous one-handed dime to the backdoor-cutting Landry Fields. 23 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers, no signs of regressing yet. (All in 34 minutes, too. A much healthier outing.)
- Wall did get 29 points and Lin said afterward that he "did a bad job of containing him", but the defense I saw was perfectly adequate and about as much as one can do against Wall when he's hitting his jumpers.
- Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert both played big minutes (Shump came off the bench again) and looked pretty superb. Neither settled for a lot of outside shots, instead using the space created by Lin's maneuvering to knife right to the basket to finish behind the defense. Shump snaggled three steals to go with his 17 points and Fields grabbed 8 rebounds (including a putback dunk that was so perfectly timed it looked choreographed) to go with his 16 points. Both shot 6-11 from the field and made all the necessary diagonal drives and cuts to supplement the pick-and-roll game in the middle of the floor. The low point for the two came when Fields inexplicably passed up a wide-open layup for an alley-oop attempt and Shump badly missed the finish (to be fair, it was a bad pass). D'Antoni looked like he was going to sneeze lava.
- Tyson Chandler did what he does, finishing a number of Lin's feeds and drawing a foul on pretty much every one that he didn't finish. He ended up with 25 points on just 12 shots and 14 free throws, which is a line so pretty I want to take it to see One For The Money and try to kiss it on its mouth. Chandler got burned a bit by the nimbler Trevor Booker (the Knicks went semi-small with Chandler and four guards/wings and the Wiz went even smaller), but made his presence felt otherwise and pulled down 11 rebounds (one of which was an exceedingly badass tip-dunk of a Shumpert airball as the shot clock expired.)
- Chandler attempted a couple of short-range jumpers again and rimmed out both. I swear his form looks fine and those would drop if he wasn't visibly regretting the endeavor while it was happening.
- Steve Novak! Again! The guy is draining threes at a Shawne-Williams-in-December-2010 rate right now. He nailed five of nine from downtown, pretty much all off the catch in the corner or at the elbow. The most ballerest of them came after a pump fake that sent the closing-out Wizard flying into crowd. Steve just gathered himself and drained the corner jumper while some Wizard (don't remember who) tried to untangle himself from a folding chair. That's so Novak.
- One more thing about Lin is that he does some pretty neat tricks to establish angles in the pick-and-roll, whether it's slowing his dribble to allow things to unfold around him or, in one particularly awesome play, actually crossing paths with the rolling Chandler, turning all the way around, and feeding Chandler on the opposite side of the rim from the one he rolled on. I didn't explain that well, so I'll share a video if I find one. The point is Lin's quite talented at taking detours to resurrect a pick-and-roll play if the initial action isn't working.
- Mike Bibby got all of Toney Douglas's back-up point guard minutes and did nothing with any of them. Four missed threes in 14 minutes.
- Besides his Band-Aid stylings, Lin also apparently switched sneakers at halftime. I did not notice this, but Clyde did, which makes perfect sense.
- Lin also denied everybody in the crowd free Chick Fil-A by sinking a pair of free throws at one point. I have no idea what the specifics of that promotion are (I guess one miss = free chickens?), but I find it kind of funny that the Wizards people decided to pin the free food responsibility on the failings of an opposing player instead of the success of their own players, like most places do.
- Do you think Nick Young and Jordan Crawford have some sort of bet going? That's the only explanation I can think of.
Yeah, this has been really, really fun. Don't take for granted how bleak things were just a couple weeks ago and how completely the mood has changed. <3 <3 <3