Here’s what the incomparable Jeremy Lin said about the reborn Knicks after hitting the game-winning shot on Tuesday night in Toronto, lifting his team to a 90-87 win over the Raptors for their season-high sixth victory in a row:
“You look around, everyone’s smiling, there’s a new energy, everyone’s excited. It’s not because of me, it’s because we’re coming together as a team. When you win, that solves a lot of problems from top to bottom…it’s a collective effort right now and that’s the beauty of a team sport.”
In a little under two weeks, Lin has become an international phenomenon, and the Knicks have morphed into a team that has the makings of a deep, dangerous squad moving forward. Before this lockout season began, Mike D’Antoni placed the burden for the Knicks to be successful squarely on his shoulders.
D’Antoni maintained that the Knicks had the necessities to be a title team. Then they went out and stunk, compiling loss after loss and placing D’Antoni’s job in peril. Who knows if he would have been fired had the Knicks lost to the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden the night before the Super Bowl, as media reports tepidly speculated?
What is certain is the Garden had become lifeless. The Knicks went into that game having dropped five of their previous six and wearing the look of a team that was ready to pack it in with 43 more dates on their schedule. The offense was stagnant and the defense mediocre. They were 8-15.
Then came Lin, and the Knicks defeated the Nets 99-92.
So there they were, last night at MSG (Wednesday), 14-15, hosting the Sacramento Kings, seeking to reach .500 with the horrible New Orleans Hornets next up tomorrow night.
With Amar’e Stoudemire out for four games due to the death of his older brother-he returned against the Raptors-and Carmelo Anthony recovering from a groin injury, the once motionless offense became a fluid thing of beauty, everyone getting touches and opportunities.
The defense, anchored by center Tyson Chandler, rookie Iman Shumpert and the under-appreciated Jared Jeffries, grew tenacious. The energy Lin spoke of is tangible.
“It’s our attitude toward one another,” said Jeffries on Tuesday. “We believe that we’re always going to win.”
Meet the new, selfless, confident Knicks.