Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jeremy Lin hits game-winning 3 as Knicks top Raptors


source: FRANK ISOLA | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

TORONTO - Jeremy Lin had the crowd on its feet, Jose Calderon on his heels and the game in his hands.

All that remained was the shot. Hours earlier, Lin had called his fairy tale journey "a miracle from God" and the biggest shot of his NBA career seem to fall from heaven.

There is no stopping Jeremy Lin and no stopping the Knicks. The undefeated point guard produced the biggest moment of his career by hitting a 3-pointer in the final second as the Knicks overcame a 17-point deficit to stun the Toronto Raptors 90-87.

The Knicks have won six straight games and are 5-0 since Lin, undrafted out of Harvard, was inserted into the starting lineup. And yes, Lin can play with Amar'e Stoudemire, who scored 22 points in his first game in 10 days following the death of his older brother Hazell.

Stoudemire struggled shooting the ball, making just 8 of 22 shots. But he hit several key shots in the fourth quarter. Lin was far from flawless as well. He committed eight turnovers and missed 11 of 20 shots.

But Lin scored 12 of his 27 points in the final 10 minutes and six in the last 65 seconds as the Knicks, after trailing by nine with two minutes left, outscored Toronto 8-0 to finish the game.

Again, the Knicks did it with their defense, holding the Raptors to 12 fourth-quarter points one game after they limited Minnesota to 11 fourth-quarter points. Iman Shumpert's defense on Jose Calderon was especially huge and Shumpert's steal and basket with 90 seconds left ignited the decisive run.


Calderon scored 25 points to lead the Raptors but was shut out in the fourth quarter. Tyson Chandler added 13 points and 9 rebounds as the Knicks, who attempted 12 more free throws than Toronto, improved to 14-15.

The Knicks can reach the .500 mark Wednesday at home against Sacramento.

Lin had a first half that would only fuel the notion of a Sports Illustrated cover jinx. He committed five turnovers including three in a row early in the second quarter. But with the Knicks trailing by 17, Lin hit a high arching 3-pointer over Linas Kleiza that ignited a 6-0 run to close out the second quarter.

He made 4 of 9 shots while Stoudemire converted just 2 of 9 shots and missed a bunch from close range. It was clear that Stoudemire wasn't rusty and winded from having last played 10 days earlier.

"Amar'e's the most lethal pick-and-roll player there is," Lin said. "He'll have no problem fitting in."

Eventually, Carmelo Anthony will rejoin the lineup and Lin will have another option on the court. Lin revealed earlier Tuesday that he's spoken to both Anthony and Stoudemire about how they can be an efficient team once the Knicks are back at full strength. "

"We're just going to be comfortable with each other, figure out where do you like the ball, when do you like the ball, which block, which elbow, stuff like that," he said. "So we're going to work through which plays are working for us, which plays are going to be the most effective for us. So it's going to be a process."

Lin scored six third-quarter points and Stoudemire added seven but Calderon, whom the Knicks couldn't defend in the pick and roll, scored 13. The Knicks managed to draw to within 75-66 as Lin began the fourth quarter on the bench. He returned with the Knicks trailing by 10 and immediately drew a shooting foul. Lin then drove - to his right -- past Calderon.

With the Raptors self-destructing offensively, Lin's wrap around pass led to a Stoudemire dunk and Stoudemire cut the deficit to 78-76 with 6:29 left when he hit a runner over Amir Johnson.

Dwane Casey's decision to play Leandro Barbosa extended minutes allowed Mike D'Antoni to use Shumpert to defend Calderon. Shumpert neutralized for most of the fourth quarter but with the Knicks needing a stop, Kleiza drove unmolested into the lane for Toronto's first basket in five minutes.

Calderon then set up Johnson for a lay-up and after Lin converted just one of two free throws, the Raptors spread the floor and Barbosa blew past Lin for a basket. Then after Chandler missed two free throws, Barbosa scored on an similar move and extended the lead to 86-77.

The Knicks answered back with five straight points and had a chance to draw closer but Lin missed a difficult runner with Kleiza in his face. Kleiza's free throw with two minutes left made it 87-82 and the Knicks were close to expiring when Johnson blocked Stoudemire's shot.

But Shumpert picked Calderon clean at midcourt for a dunk and after DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive to the basket, Lin pumped faked on the 3-pointer and scored over Johnson as he was fouled. Lin's free throw with 65 seconds left tied it. Shumpert missed the potential go-ahead basket but Chandler tapped out the rebound to Lin with 19 seconds left.

Toronto elected to single cover Lin with Calderon, who seemed more worried about preventing Lin from driving. When Lin noticed that Calderon was giving him space, he pulled up and drained a long jumper from the top of the circle.