Knicks win streak ends but 'Lin-sanity' rolls on
NEW YORK (UPDATE) - A late comeback led by Jeremy Lin fell short and the New Orleans Hornets ended New York's NBA win streak at seven games with an 89-85 victory on Friday, but even defeat was no cure for "Lin-sanity".
Lin matched Knicks teammate Amare Stoudemire with a game-high 26 points but the first US-born NBA player of Taiwanese and Chinese heritage also made nine turnovers, matching the most by any player in a game this season, in the loss.
"I was nervous coming out and careless with the ball," Lin said. "Nine turnovers is never going to get it done from your primary ball handler. It's on me in terms of taking care of the ball and the game in general.
"Being patient is something I have struggled with and something I really need to look at now."
The Knicks had been on a magical run since bench-warmer Lin, cut by two clubs before the season, was called upon with two starters missing and answered with the most points of any NBA player in his first five starts since 1976.
The 23-year-old point guard, whose parents are from Taiwan while a maternal grandmother is from China, also contributed five assists and four steals against the Hornets, but in the end, found out that even he can't Lin them all.
"Everyone wants to credit me for the last seven games and I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders," Lin said. "It's very disappointing just because I felt like this could have been a good game for us to win."
Lin's fortnight of amazing moments included several high-scoring efforts, a last-second 3-pointer to beat Toronto and 13 assists to help seven players reach double figures in a rout of Sacramento, capturing the world's attention.
Asked if he thought the defeat marked the end of Lin's impressive play, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said "Lin-sanity" is only the beginning of an amazing story that will add more chapters when injured Carmelo Anthony returns.
"I don't think (the loss) will change anything," D'Antoni said. "He's smart enough to know what to do. I don't think he expected to win every game.
"You don't turn it on and off. You play. I thought he played well. He had 26 points. How many you want him to get? 40."
Lin said Anthony's return and the signing of shooting guard J.R. Smith will not alter his mental approach, but might call for adjustments in strategy.
"I'll come in with the same mentality, to attack and be aggressive," Lin said. "I'll hopefully be more efficient. It's always a good thing when you have more weapons, more playmakers."
While the win streak has ended, the "Lin-sanity" phenomenon figures to continue as Knicks fans saw their team rise from a mediocre also-ran to a formidable force, knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers during their win streak.
Extra attention figures to still be focused on Lin and the Knicks, but the new Asian-American star at the center of the storm said he would not mind not dealing with the pressure of the win streak.
"I don't think this is good because I hate losing, but I know what you are saying about things dying down," Lin said. "It may help me. It may help the team a little bit having everything cool down off the court a litle bit."
Lin made eight turnovers in the first half when the Hornets seized command as the Knicks never led.
"He was making the hardest pass out there," D'Antoni said. "That will happen to young guys. He'll learn. He'll get through it. In the second half he did quite well. He adjusted."
Lin, who scored 16 points in the second half and made only one turnover after half-time, went 8-of-18 shooting from the field, 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and made 8-of-10 free throws.
Trevor Ariza scored 25 points and Italy's Marco Belinelli added 17 to lead the Hornets, who rose to 7-23 by winning their third game in a row by holding off a late charge by Lin and Stoudemire in the final minutes.
The Knicks pulled within 78-75 on a Stoudemire layup with 4:05 to play but Lin missed a layup and a possible tying 3-pointer with 2:31 remaining.
Belinelli banked in a jumper for the Hornets but Lin answered with a layup to pull the Knicks within 80-77 with 1:55 to play.
Lin made a steal and hit two free throws with 1:06 to go to pull New York within 82-80 but the Hornets hit their free throws down the stretch to deny the Knicks, 15-16, any chance at another last-second shocker.
"When you miss that many shots, everything had to go right and it didn't and we came up with a loss," D'Antoni said.
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