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