Jeremy Lin comes back to earth, but inspires Knicks win

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The Knicks would not have won this game two weeks ago.

And that is the true measure Linsanity — it is not just the points and assists that Jeremy Lin brings anymore, it’s about the energy and fight he has brought out of this roster. Two weeks ago the Knicks would have rolled over and taken their loss on the second night of a back-to-back. They would have would all have been gunners and when the shots didn’t fall they would have accepted their fate.

Not now. Now they stage comebacks.

Jeremy Lin came back to earth some on Saturday night — hounded by Ricky Rubio he needed 24 shots to get his 20 points, he had eight assists but six turnovers.

But the Knicks — looking tired on the second night of a back-to-back — had other players step up, closed the game on a 5-0 run by making key plays and escaped Minnesota with a 100-98 win.

Oh, and Lin did hit the go-ahead free throw. So you can add that to the legend.

But this game was about the other Knicks. Down six with 3:30 left it looked like this was just not the Knicks night. For the six minutes before that the Knicks scored just two points, courtesy Tyson Chandler. Nothing worked. But they fought hard on defense (and the Timberwolves didn’t take advantage of some good looks and nifty plays by Rubio).

Then Steve Novak drained a three (he finished with 15), then Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert knocked down shots and suddenly the Knicks were ahead 95-94. Shumpert had 20 points off the bench and was New York’s best offensive player of the game.

Minnesota is a young team learning how to win, too. Kevin Love drew a foul and knocked down a couple free throws (he finished with a ridiculous 32 points and 21 rebounds), then Rubio made an impressive driving layup and the Wolves were up 3 with :39 seconds left.

Then, another Novak three. It was tied. Rubio had an ugly turnover, then soon Jeremy Lin was in the lane and drew a foul from Luke Ridnour (who didn’t need to foul, Nikola Pekovic had played Lin well on the drive). Minnesota had time for one clean look, but Rubio dribbled the ball off his foot and you kind of had a feeling how this was going to end.

The Knicks have found something more than just a point guard in Lin, they have found some passion and identity. The return of Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can make that better. The Knicks can start to live up to the preseason promise of the squad. And that is the real meaning of Linsanity. Because two weeks ago that seemed impossible

Shorthanded Cavaliers now without Iman Shumpert for 5-7 days

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Isaiah Thomas is still rehabbing his hip, he should return next month.

With him out, Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers have had to lean more on Derrick Rose at the point, except he has a sprained ankle that is going to have him out a couple more weeks.

That has forced Iman Shumpert into the starting point guard role in Cleveland, although he mostly is there for defense/shooting as the playmaking duties fall to LeBron James.

Now the Cavaliers will have to get by without Shumpert for a while with water on the knee, Cleveland announced on Saturday. He left Friday night’s Cavs win against the Clippers with a sore knee and did not return

“Additional examination and imaging today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed left knee effusion. He will be out 5-7 days while he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.

This is going to force Lue to play Jose Calderon, who he has kept glued to the bench this season despite the injuries. J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade will need to take on more run as well.

The Celtics have won four in a row — thanks to a more focused offense — and face the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets this week.

Joakim Noah on if he can play at former level: “Probably not. Probably not.”

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For three games, Joakim Noah has been clear of the 20-game PED suspension he started at the end of last season.

For three games, he has not even dressed for the Knicks.

This is the former Defensive Player of the Year who was already on the decline when Phil Jackson gave him a $72 million contract that is now the worst in the NBA. Noah is out of the rotation, where Enes Kanter starts at center (with Kristaps Porzingis at the four) and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.

Noah told Marc Berman of the New York Post he is frustrated but gets the situation.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said in his first comments since being reinstated. “I understand the situation. I’m going to make the best of it.”

When asked if he still feels he can be close to the player he was in his 2013-14 campaign, Noah said: “Probably not. Probably not. You know. I can help. I feel like I could help this team and that’s just my reality. But I just want to just be the best that I can be.

“It’s not about trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality.”

Noah is a smart and mature player, he understands his reality, and he has the exact attitude you want a veteran off the bench. He can help in practices, he can help because he understands how to play defense and can teach it, and eventually, he will get a chance on the court. He is not part of the future of the Knicks, but he can guide these young players.

The Knicks new management will look for a way to unload Noah’s contract, but considering the sweeteners the Knicks would need to throw in to get a team to deal for Noah, it’s unlikely we see any action on that front for a long time.

Frustrated Gregg Popovich calls all three referees “f****** blind”

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The Spurs completed an amazing comeback win against the Thunder Friday night, coming from 23 down to knock off the Thunder when Carmelo Anthony‘s game-tying three was just a two because his toe was on the line.

Gregg Popovich was into this one.

So much so that when he didn’t like an out-of-bounds call he made sure all three officials knew exactly how blind he thought they were.

The best part of this is Popovich covering his eyes, just to really emphasize his point.

We’re really going to miss Pop when he steps away to live at a winery full time.

Lakers/Suns have minor skirmish, Lonzo Ball just walks away

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If you’re on the court when your team gets in an NBA “fight” — what the rest of us would call a shoving match where nobody really wants to throw a punch — should you run into the fray and help your teammates?

Friday night, with just more than three minutes to go in Phoenix’s eventual win, the Suns called a timeout, and Tyler Ulis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got in one of those silly shoving matches. Players from both teams raced into the fray to protect their teammate/break it up.

The Suns’ rookie Josh Jackson picked up a technical for his role racing in and escalating the matter.

Watch the video again, and you’ll see Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball just walk away from it all and head to the bench.

That has led to criticism of the rookie from some Lakers’ fans, who see a guy who didn’t rush in to protect his teammates — that’s seen as part of the sports locker room culture. A “band of brothers” or “us against the world” mentality. Ball, frankly, gave a more mature answer than that.

Ball is right, nothing was going to come of this. It was meaningless posturing. Walking away was the mature move.

However, the question is how is this perceived in the Lakers’ locker room? Do the players care that Ball shrugged and walked away? Do they think he needed to race in and try to look tough like everyone else? That can impact his standing on the team — as a guy Magic Johnson brought in to be a leader — more than anything.

Also, with all his shooting woes, is this the first sign of some Lakers fans starting to turn on Lonzo? It’s a little early for that.