Look at the Knicks!
Playing without their two superstars, the grieving Amar’e Stoudemire and the injured Carmelo Anthony, New York won last night in the nation’s capital, its third straight victory with Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin at point guard.
Yes, that college basketball powerhouse, Harvard!
No, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to play point guard in the NBA, but intelligence doesn’t hurt. Most of all, it takes someone who is aware that basketball is a team sport and the point guard’s job is to distribute the ball so that everyone is involved in the offense.
“Involved” doesn’t mean everyone has to have an even amount of touches. It just means that when you’re busting your butt to get back on defense, there’s a good chance that you will see the ball on the other end of the court. Call it incentive. It may be for a shot of your own, but it could just as well be for a give-and-go, pick and roll – whatever it takes to help the team win.
Good point guards make everyone feel a part of the team. It’s tough when you assume that the only shots you’re going to get all night are when you grab an offensive rebound or hit the bar on the way home from the game.
True, that may be great incentive to work the offensive boards, but that’s not the point.
Jeremy Lin gets the point.
“The energy in this room and camaraderie we have unifies this team,” teammate Jared Jeffries told the New York Post last night. “(Lin) can take credit for that.”
The undrafted Lin had 23 points in last night’s victory over the Wizards and handed out 10 assists. But it’s not about Lin’s numbers. It’s about his court vision. It’s about his unselfishness. It’s about his speed and talent. It’s about his teammates.
When Tyson Chandler first got to New York, he had a reputation as a terrific defender but not a real threat with the ball. Last night, Lin worked the pick and roll with Chandler, and the Knicks center responded with a game-high 25 points. Two shy of his career high. Chandler didn’t shy away from his rebounding duties, either. He also grabbed 11 boards.
Three-point specialist Steve Novak recorded his second consecutive 19-point outing.
Moved from the point, Iman Shumpert responded with 17 points and three steals from the shooting guard position.
And Landry Fields is back, too, finishing the fast break and hitting the boards like he did last season. He had 16 points and eight rebounds.
But this being the NBA and the age of ESPN’s Sports Center, everyone wanted to talk about Lin’s uncontested dunk after he blew by former No. 1 pick John Wall.
Yes, it was an athletic play by a kid from Harvard, but the Knicks have enough athleticism. Forget the dunks, give Knicks fans a point guard who “gets it.”
Lin might be the man.
“You look around the locker room,’’ Lin told the Post. “The combined salaries may be not that much but these guys can play basketball. Everybody across the board. The whole team is playing with so much chemistry. The chemistry can’t come from one person. It’s a five-man game.”
Hopefully that message gets through when the superstars return to action.