New York riding the wave of Jeremy Lin… but it will hit shore

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You know how you can be working hard on a really hot day, spending hours helping your friend move (including getting that couch up three flights of twisting stairs), and you really could go for a beer. When it’s all done, someone hands you a cold Bud Light and it tastes like the best beer you’ve ever had?

It’s not. It’s no Stone IPA. Bud Light is barely passable most of the time. But in the right place at the right time it seems heaven sent.

That’s Jeremy Lin in New York right now.

He’s not a great point guard, but he’s the right guy in the right place at the right time.

Lin was a curiosity out of Harvard who caught people’s eye at Summer League two years ago for the same reasons he is succeeding in New York — he plays well off the pick and roll and attacks the paint with a vengance. He makes smart plays and is crafty getting to the hoop, and he can hit open teammates when the defense comes at him. This season he generates 43.7 percent of his offense as the pick-and-roll ball handler and shoots 60 percent in that role (via mysynergysports.com).

The Knicks haven’t had anything like this since the ‘Melo trade, and suddenly Mike D’Antoni’s offense looks like that thing we remember from Phoenix. The pace is being pushed, guys are getting dunks at the rim and wide-open threes. There is spacing and ball movement again.

And Lin gets all the credit for it. He deserves it, he has given the team energy.

We all know this isn’t going to last. Right? Zach Lowe talks about it at Sports Illustrated, too. There are reasons the Warriors and Rockets didn’t give him this kind of run. (Come on New York, deep down you know it, too.) First, it’s a small sample size of success. The fact Lin turns the ball over on 28 percent of the plays where he is the pick-and-roll ball handler hasn’t caught up with him yet. He has played against teams that struggle against the pick-and-roll defensively so far. Also, eventually Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire will come back and take the ball and shots.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for Lin in New York. He may not be the long-term answer, but he can be an answer. His style of play coming off the bench with some shooters around him could give the Knicks a formidable and fun second unit. He should stick for a while — so get the guy a place to live.

And right now — with Stoudemire and Anthony out a few more games — it’s going to be fun to watch him go against John Wall Wednesday then make Derek Fisher look slow and old on Friday.

New York should keep riding the Lin wave. Just know that eventually it will get to shore.

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.

Clippers win likely playoff preview 108-95 over Jazz

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West. The teams are likely to face in the first round of the postseason.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles’ lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

Chris Paul and Crawford both got technicals while the Clippers struggled to score and defend.

But Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had 17 points in the quarter, scoring six in a row to push the Clippers’ lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah’s top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. … G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. … F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. … They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. … They won the season series 3-1.

 

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Sixers’ Joel Embiid officially has knee surgery, expected to be back on court in summer

Associated Press
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“The… follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid‘s left knee appears to reveal… the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan.”

When Philadelphia’s chief medical director Dr. Jonathan Glashow said that in a statement announcing Joel Embiid was being shut down for the season, the chance of knee surgery to clean up that meniscus was possible. Friday it became a reality, the team announced.

CSNPhilly.com had the details.

The team expects Embiid to resume basketball activities during this summer, according to Sixers director of performance research and development Dr. David T. Martin. Embiid will begin his rehab in Los Angeles with specialists and Sixers medical and training staff members.

“The overall status of Joel’s lateral meniscus and his cartilage is very good,” surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D., who performed the surgery, said in a statement. “Today’s procedure focused on removing a small portion of the meniscus that was responsible for his symptoms.

“The recovery program that has been established targets Joel transitioning back to full weight-bearing in approximately two weeks, at which point a conservative approach to his rehabilitation will be introduced.”

After Embiid missed two seasons with foot issues, there is a tendency to lump everything together and call him injury prone. This, however, was a minor surgery with a relatively short recovery period, even as the Sixers bring him along slowly. There is reason for concern, but this shouldn’t be an issue by next training camp.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions. He’s still likely a top three finisher in Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing in just 31 games.