On one magical night at Madison Square Garden, Jeremy Lin ’10 finally got his chance.
And under the world’s brightest lights, going head-to-head with one of the best point guards in the world, the former Harvard standout shined.
With his team desperately in need of a win, it was Lin who delivered, recording a career-high 25 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in 36 minutes while playing lockdown defense on Nets star Deron Williams.
“This night just really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Lin said in his post-game press conference, where he was reportedly mobbed by 30 media members. “I’m still kind of in shock about everything that happened, but I’m just trying to soak it all in right now.”
Coming into the contest, the Knicks had lost 11 of their last 13, and when the home team fell behind by 12 in the first quarter, the Garden faithful had already broken into chants of “Fire D’Antoni,” referring to the Knicks embattled coach.
In came Lin, and by the end of the night, the home fans were still chanting—but this time, they were cries of “Je-re-my! Je-re-my!” for the second-year guard.
“He picked us up offensively; he played great defensively. We fed off his energy tonight down the stretch,” Carmelo Anthony told reporters after the game. “We put the ball in his hands, and he won the game for us.”
Anthony is normally the Knicks go-to guy, but on one Saturday, at least, it was Lin who stole the show.
He entered the game with 3:34 to go in the first quarter, and—other than a brief rest at the start of the third—did not return to the bench.
Lin began filling up the stat line in the second period. With the Knicks still down 12, the point guard hit a layup, had a steal, and found Toney Douglas with a lead pass in transition to begin bringing his team back.
“I just want to be able to make plays,” said Lin, who was in the D-League just two weeks ago. “You just go with what the defense gives you, and you see what happens.”
That was what Lin continued to do all night long. With 2:46 remaining in the half, the point guard broke down the defense for another layup and then fed Tyson Chandler an alley-oop to tie the game at 46.
“It was unbelievable what he was able to come in and bring,” Chandler said after the contest. “He brought that spark off the bench, and that’s really what we’ve been needing.”
Lin struggled with his shot for most of the third, but the crowd stayed behind him. With three seconds to go in the period, he finished an and-one to bring the Knicks with in two.
“The biggest thing is that he has a point guard’s mentality,” said D’Antoni, who noted that Lin would be seeing a lot more playing time in the future. “He has a rhyme or reason to what he’s doing. He gives us a good feel. And you can play off that.”