Before Wednesday night’s tipoff against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Knicks fans—and sports fans—around the world were curious to see how New York starting point guard Jeremy Lin ’10 would bounce back after a dismal 1-for-11 shooting performance against the Miami Heat before the All-Star Break. His shooting percentage proved to be only one of several issues for the second-year guard in his last game, as LeBron James and Co. highlighted Lin's propensity to lose the ball in high-pressure situations and forced him to commit eight turnovers on the night.
Well, for one night, Lin quieted the critics. The former Harvard standout delivered a balanced performance against Kyrie Irving and the Cavs, posting 19 points to go along with 13 assists and one turnover. The Knicks handily beat Cleveland, 120-103.
“Coming off the Miami game, the only thing I focused on was to make sure my approach was the same in terms of aggressiveness and to make sure I did a better job of taking care of the ball,” Lin said after the game.
The Harvard alum showed significant improvement in both aspects, but then again, he did it against the 13-21 Cavaliers. Nevertheless, the strong outing should restore some confidence in the young point guard, who recorded these solid numbers in only 33 minutes of play, helping the Knicks level their record at 18-18.
Backup Baron Davis fared well off the bench and dished out eight assists, proving that he is getting back into game form and capable of relieving Lin from having to play major minutes every night.
Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison had a game-high 23 points, and teammate Irving pitched in 22 points with seven assists. New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 22 points, and Tyson Chandler contributed 13 points and grabbed 15 boards.
Though Lin played well, fellow former benchwarmer Steve Novak was critical in reversing a 12-point halftime deficit into a New York lead that ballooned as large as 20 points in the fourth quarter. Novak hit five threes in the second half en route to 17 points for the night. Madison Square Garden, which roars for Lin on a nightly basis, found a new darling in Novak, chanting “We Want Novak" in the fourth when the Cavs were making a small run to close the deficit.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni put Lin and a majority of the starters back in the game to keep Cleveland at bay, and in the final 1:30, Lin closed out his performance with two passes that led to dunks for his teammates, Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert.
Fans certainly left MSG with their faiths restored in Linsanity. But as the NBA season keeps rolling, the challenges do not stop for the Knicks here: They face a stern test on Sunday when Lin makes his way back to Cambridge to face the Celtics at TD Garden.