Case in Point: Jeremy Lin ’10 Versus Some of the NBA’s Best

Published by Brian A. Campos on March 01, 2012 at 3:12AM

February, known for its romantic holiday, did not show much love for former Harvard standout Jeremy Lin ’10, as the latest New York Knicks point guard faced several tough tests against both rookie and veteran opposition. But it did mark the beginning of a brand new romance between New York and Lin, who has taken the city—and the globe—by a storm with his out-of-nowhere and much-needed emergence at the point-guard position. Let's take a look back at the point guards who have had their try at stopping Linsanity and determine who got the best of whom:

Deron Williams (Nets, twice: Feb. 4 W, 99-92; Feb. 20 L 100-92)

Lin: 25 points, 7 assists, 10-19 FG, 1 TO

This was where it all started. Feeling his tenure coming to an abrupt close, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni took a gamble against New Jersey and put in Lin, then the fourth-string point guard. The Harvard grad proceeded to run circles around a Nets defense that was completely unaware of Lin’s speed and passing ability. Lin outplayed All-Star Deron Williams, who scored 21 points and posted 11 assists, to help the Knicks avoid a third consecutive loss.

Lin: 21 points, 9 assists, 7-18 FG, 3 TO

Williams came into this matchup with a chip on his shoulder, and it showed. The Nets point guard put up a season-high 38 points against Lin and led his underachieving team to an unexpected win at Madison Square Garden.

Winner: Williams created Linsanity, but he also put down his own creation. But, as everyone has credited him with starting the newest NBA sensation, it seems like he will live with this forever. Lin takes this matchup…barely.

Devin Harris (Jazz, Feb. 6 W 99-88)

Lin: 28 points, 8 assists, 10-17 FG, 8 TO

A former All-Star, Devin Harris has seen a dip in his stats ever since the 2008-09 season. This year’s campaign has been no different. Harris underperformed, as did his team, against Lin and the Knicks, recording only nine points and four assists. Lin was granted his first NBA start, and he certainly delivered.

Winner: This is a win for Lin, no doubt.

John Wall (Wizards, Feb. 8 W 107-93)

Lin: 23 points, 10 assists, 9-14 FG, 2 TO

In a supposed rematch of the 2010 Summer League game that put Lin on the map and helped him earn a spot on the Warriors roster, John Wall fared well, lighting up the Knicks for 29 points and six assists. But his solo performance was not enough to stop Linsanity, which racked up another win during that improbable week.

Winner: The two really went at it, but since Lin got the win without his two All-Star teammates and dunked on an inept Wizards team, the Taiwanese-American gets the win.

Derek Fisher (Lakers, Feb. 10 W 92-85)

Lin: 38 points, 7 assists, 13-23 FG, 6 TO

Under the bright lights of MSG, Lin proved to the world that he was no fleeting wonder. The second-year guard won his third game as a starter by not only hitting big three-pointers to keep the Lakers at bay but also outplaying probable future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant. Derek Fisher showed that the years are weighing him down, failing to contain Lin.

Winner: Fisher should really retire and go fishing. It's clear his best days are behind him.

Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves, Feb. 11 W 100-98)

Lin: 20 points, 8 assists, 8-24 FG, 6 TO

Ricky Rubio was not fazed by Linsanity, playing true to his passing game and suffocating Lin at times with some stifling defense. Rubio was primarily responsible for making Lin cough up the ball several times, especially in the second half, but Lin ultimately made up for it by hitting big free throws to close out his fourth game at the helm of the Knicks offense.

Winner: Rubio played a pretty passing game, but Lin outscored the Spaniard and was clutch down the stretch. This one goes to Lin.

Jose Calderon (Raptors, Feb. 14 W 90-87)

Lin: 27 points, 11 assists, 9-20 FG, 8 TO

Spanish point guard Jose Calderon put the team on his back, shooting at a high percentage to keep the Raptors in the game. But with a combination of rookie Iman Shumpert’s defense on Calderon in the second half and Lin’s late-game theatrics, the Knicks stole the game, and got the “W” on the road.

Winner: This one would have gone to Calderon had he continued his hot shooting in the second half and had Lin not hit the biggest game-winner of his young career. Lin takes this one by a hair.

Tyreke Evans (Kings, Feb. 15 W 100-85)

Lin: 10 points, 13 assists, 4-6 FG, 6 TO

Lin did not have to score much in order to be effective on the court against the Sacramento Kings. He focused on dishing the ball out to his teammates, and his supporting cast responded by giving Lin a then-career-high 13 assists. It also marked the first time (since that initial game against the Nets) that Lin did not score at least 20 points. Tyreke Evans scored 19 points in the losing effort, and the Kings never really gave the home team much trouble.

Winner: Sacramento looked like a D-League team and Evans couldn't get anything going. Lin's balanced game wins this one.

Greivis Vasquez (Hornets, Feb. 17 L 89-85)

Lin: 26 points, 5 assists, 8-18 FG, 9 TO

Everyone thought that the Linning streak would end with Dallas, not with the 6-23 New Orleans Hornets. But it did, thanks to Greivis Vasquez's 11 assists and Trevor Ariza’s team-high 25 points. The visiting Hornets came out with visibly more energy and the lackadaisical Knicks fell behind for much of the game. Even though Lin got his team within two points in the fourth, the Hornets defense staved off New York to sneak out of MSG with a win. What really hurt the Knicks were Lin’s nine turnovers, his highest total since becoming New York’s starter.

Winner: With Lin’s nine turnovers and the Hornerts’ win, Vasquez deserves the W here.

Jason Kidd (Mavericks, Feb. 19 W 104-97)

Lin: 28 points, 14 assists, 11-20 FG, 7 TO

Lin’s TO problem was already worrying fans, but it didn’t matter as long as the Knicks were winning. This was the case once again against the defending champions. On national TV, Lin and sidekick Steve Novak rallied the Knicks past the Mavericks, despite the fact that New York was down by 12 at the end of the third quarter and Lin had already lost the ball several times. But New York's newest star proved once again that he could hit big-time shots—including one over the seven-foot Dirk Nowitzki—and Novak showed off his marksmanship with four three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Jason Kidd was really nowhere to be found in this game.

Winner: This is a no-brainer: Lin for the win.

Jeff Teague (Hawks, Feb. 22 W 99-82)

Lin: 17 points, 9 assists, 6-11FG, 4 TO

Jeff Teague led an Atlanta Hawks team that was missing two key players, Joe Johnson and Al Horford, with 18 points. Unfortunately for the Hawks, that was probably their only bright spot of the night. New York blew out Atlanta for most of the game, and Lin had an easygoing time before facing the Miami Heat the next day.

Winner: The Knicks were winning by over 30 points midway through the first half—Lin was largely responsible for that. The answer to this one is pretty self-explanatory.

Mario Chalmers (Heat, Feb. 23 L 102-88)

Lin: 8 points, 3 assists, 1-11 FG, 8 TO

Lin looked like the Lin of old against last year’s Eastern Conference champs, the Miami Heat, scoring a measly eight points and turning the ball over eight times. Mario Chalmers, LeBron James, and Joel Anthony did a great job of containing Lin and making him nervous and visibly frustrated. Without a point guard, the New York Knicks quickly unraveled, never really finding an offensive rhythm, a fact that came to a head in the second half.

Winner: Though Chalmers did not have a pretty game offensively either, the Heat point guard did play an important role in his team's defensive scheme. He takes this one.

Next up: Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers, Feb. 29)

A Rookie of the Year front-runner, Kyrie Irving has made the Cleveland Cavaliers somewhat competitive this season, keeping the Cavs within striking distance of the playoffs. Irving is a quick and physical guard and will almost certainly give Lin trouble tonight.