Lin's Buzzer-Beater Lifts Knicks over Raptors

Published by Arya Mehrabanzad on February 15, 2012 at 10:12PM

For those of you riding the Jeremy Lin train (and who isn’t?!), his first four starts have been surprising, amazing, and even inspiring. But his fifth start? Surreal.

Not even the likes of Homer and George Lucas, creators of some of the most famous archetypal heroes, could have scripted Harvard grad Jeremy Lin’s ascent and performance Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors. Hero rises as the underdog, struggles initially, gets hurt, but ultimately prevails. As cliché as it might sound, that’s exactly how New York Knicks starting point guard Jeremy Lin’s night went.

Lin finished with an impressive stat line of 27 points, 11 assists, two rebounds, and a steal in 43 minutes. But what he, and all basketball fans, will remember most about Tuesday’s game are the last three seconds.  After an offensive rebound gave New York possession with the game tied at 87 with 20 seconds left, the ball went straight to Lin about 40 feet from the basket.  There was never any doubt about who would be taking the last shot as Lin drained the clock to three seconds, crept up to the three-point line, and drilled a 25-foot three pointer right in the face of Raptors guard Jose Calderon. The game-winner capped off a 24-12 fourth quarter in favor of the Knicks, who have now won six in a row with Lin at the helm.

His team down five points with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Lin was seen going to the sideline to be treated for a bloody cut on his arm following a costly turnover. Whatever they did or said on the sideline must have worked—55 seconds later, Lin drove to the basket and converted an impressive floater over Raptors center Amir Johnson while being fouled and falling to his back.  Lin then hit the pivotal go-ahead free throw. Call it fearlessness or a short-memory, but Lin’s drive to basket ignited the Knicks just in time to pull out the victory.

With his shifty drives, confident shooting, and impressive court vision, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni seems to have found an aggressive and smart point-guard to lead his high-scoring offense.  At least Spike Lee, who has become the Knicks unofficial mascot, surely thinks so.

@SpikeLee: “When Will The World Understand Jeremy Lin Is A Baller?Is There Still Any Doubt.Da Orange And Blue Are Going For The Ring.Don't Sleep.Ya-Dig?”

But back to reality. The Knicks (14-15) still needed a last second three-pointer to beat the lowly Raptors (9-21), who were missing their 2006 first overall pick and leading scorer Andrea Bargnani. And Lin still needs to improve on ball security (eight turnovers against the Raptors) as well as his 61% free-throw percentage over the past two one-possession games. Lin set the record for most turnovers by a player in his first five starts.

And that comes one day after boxer (and now criminal) Floyd “Money” Mayweather tweeted,

“Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise.”

With all due respect, “Money,” it’s actually because as an undrafted free agent on his third team, Lin set the record Tuesday night for most points scored over a player’s first five career starts in the NBA. And that includes all races.

We can only hope that Lin’s electrifying streak will continue, if not for basketball’s sake then at least to see how many more puns “Linsanity” will create.  But in the end, Spike Lee will always say it best:

@SpikeLee: “Jeremy" I Got Dem Brotha's Stumb-Lin And Bumb-Lin-MUMB-LIN TOO. HEE HEE HEE”