source: Agence France-Presse
NEW YORK—Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony will have a couple more games to work on adapting their styles to each other before the NBA All-Star Game break, which offers the New York Knicks some vital practice time.
The Knicks had won eight of nine games since “Lin-sanity” began but Anthony returned from a groin strain on Monday and the New Jersey Nets beat New York 100-92, with new Asian-American star Lin and Anthony struggling together.
New York will play host to Atlanta on Wednesday and visit NBA overall leader Miami on Thursday before reaching the annual mid-season pause.
“We get to the All-Star break, we get four or five practices to figure out the kind of team, the identity we have… and re-tool a little bit and see what we can do,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“We’ve got to get some things sorted out.”
Lin’s meteoric rise to stardom began as a benchwarmer given a chance to play with two starters absent. He answered the call with the most points of any NBA player in his first five starts since 1976.
Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, was cut by two other teams before joining the Knicks and showing his versatility as a point guard with high-point games when needed and assist-heavy performances when situations called for it.
But suddenly the Knicks are a puzzle with a handful of new pieces to fit around Lin, and vice versa.
Amare Stoudemire is back after the death of his brother. Anthony is back after missing seven games while hurt. Baron Davis is back at point guard after being hurt all season. Shooting guard J.R. Smith has just signed after playing in China.
“It’s a little tough right now with no practice time,” Lin said. “We’re not happy with how it went but sometimes when you go through these type of times you become a better team. We need to find a good balance.
“We need to figure out what our identity is going to be.”
Anthony said he tried to tone down his game too much to play alongside Lin, hitting only 4-of-11 from the field and scoring only 11 points in their first game together since Lin’s rise to fame.
“My mind-set was not try to come in and do too much. Try to fit in. Try to play my game within the system that they’ve been playing the last couple weeks — pass the ball, finding the open man, making the right play,” Anthony said.
“I want Jeremy to have the ball, hands down. I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amare. I want him to create for everybody and still be aggressive as he has been in the past two weeks.”
In the meantime, the phenomenon surrounding Lin grows. US television ratings for the Knicks’ Sunday national telecast were 60 percent higher than last year.
People are paying thousands of dollars for game-worn Lin jerseys and shoes and court-side tickets to watch him play, while thousands of people have gathered in Taiwan to watch games involving Lin, who has a maternal grandmother living in China.
“He’s acting as the catalyst to grow the sport in China,” NBA China chief executive David Shoemaker told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re doing everything possible to react to the frenzy of the fans and to respond in every way possible to their demand to see more of Jeremy.”