February 4, 2012: Linsanity Begins
The New York Knicks, losers of 11 of their previous 13 games, needed a jolt to spark the team. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler were not meshing, partially due to the lockout.
The team also lacked point guard production since amnestying Chauncey Billups before the season. Toney Douglas significantly struggled with starter minutes. Mike Bibby was beyond his prime. Baron Davis was still sidelined with a back injury. While rookie Iman Shumpert showed promise with his athleticism and defensive awareness, he did not have a natural feel as a point guard. With the Knicks down 20-16 to the then-putrid New Jersey Nets, coach Mike D’Antoni finally unleashed Jeremy Lin.
Due to the lack of point guard depth and Iman Shumpert’s injury in the first game of the season, the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers in December. Lin spent most of the first month of the season shuffling between the Knicks and the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League. The Knicks almost cut him near the end of January, but Baron Davis suffered a minor setback in his recovery and the Knicks just came off a bad loss against the Boston Celtics.
Lin came off the bench to play most of the 1st half against the Nets. He helped the Knicks cut a 10-point deficit down to two by halftime. He brought a new level of energy with his defense, aggressiveness attacking the paint, and passing. Players such as Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who struggled for most of the season, felt revitalized during the game. He showed excellent chemistry with Tyson Chandler by feeding him several alley-oop passes.
Lin also played most of the 2nd half. With the Knicks down 72-70 to start the 4th, Lin continued to impress and shock the MSG faithful. He scored 12 of his 25 points in the 4th quarter and did most of his damage against Deron Williams. He attacked with pizzazz and scored a ton of difficult layups to excite the crowd. The crowd, overall, was in awe of his performance.
Lin ended with 25 points on 10-19 from the field and 8 assists. This game forced D’Antoni to start his in the next game against the Jazz and thus began the short, but fun Linsanity era. Additionally, the game helped reenergize Madison Square Garden and helped fuel a 7 game winning streak.