Novak spectacular in Knicks come-from-behind win

Jeremy Lin, center, goes up for a floater over Tristan Thompson.

It took the Knicks nearly three quarters to realize the All-Star break was over, but once they awakened from their doldrums, they promptly took care of the fledgling Cavs, 120-103.      

The Knicks (18-18) used a 10-2 run to start the third quarter that nearly erased a 12-point halftime deficit. They finally got over the hump when reserve forward Steve Novak came to the rescue, as the veteran journeyman nailed four of his five 3-pointers in the third quarter to take the lead. Novak hit a 3 at the 3:48 mark to bring the Knicks within two and then gave them the lead for the first time on the following possession with 2:52 remaining in the third. Following Novak’s torrent of 3s, the Knicks never looked back.   

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Jeremy Lin said he knows from experience how well the bench can play and added it was fun to check out late in the third quarter, only to see the lead balloon while he got some rest.  

“We didn’t think that would be like that,” Lin said of the fact he headed for the bench in the third quarter up one and came back in with them up double figures. “The second unit did an awesome job. Baron [Davis] and [Steve] Novak definitely showed our depth.”      

Head coach Mike D’Antoni said he wasn’t surprised by the late spurt, as most teams coming off the break started off slowly.   

“If you watched the games from Tuesday night, most of the home teams coming off break struggled at first,” offered D’Antoni. “But at like the five minute mark of the third quarter the guys got back into the game.”      

D’Antoni then added that the bench has given maximum effort all season and have really turned the screws on the starters.   

“That group has kicked the first unit’s butt the last couple of days in practice,” said D’Antoni. “Guys understand their roles, even the guys, like Josh Harrellson, who might be playing well and practicing well but might not get into the game. And that’s just guys buying into the game. No excuses [because] you gotta come in ready. You can’t come in stiff.”

Novak tallied 17 points, part of an impressive 50 total points from the bench.

Still, all but one starter reached double-digits in scoring. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 22 points, while Jeremy Lin added 19 points and 13 assists. Lin was also very stingy with the turnovers as he only committed one. The first-year standout set an NBA record for most turnovers to start a career and came into the game averaging nearly six, but Wednesday night’s performance was very solid.     

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Lin hopes he can continue to grow as the floor general and limit mistakes.    

“Coming off the Miami game I wanted to make sure my approach was the same as far as my aggressiveness and not turning the ball over,” Lin said of his turnover-filled performance against the Heat in New York’s final game before the break. “I’m just happy tonight wasn’t eight [turnovers]. … I think I can keep it down between three and four per game and I’d be OK with that.”

Tyson Chandler wasn’t to be outdone as he showed little effect from his injured left wrist, as he tallied a double-double by the early portion of the third quarter. Chandler, who finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds, had acknowledged following Tuesday’s practice that his deep bone bruise and nerve damage could be a hindrance the remainder of the season. That wasn’t the case, Wednesday night, as the veteran was his usual dominant self on the blocks, adding four blocks. 

“Tyson’s impact has been that of a superstar on and off the floor, as his intangibles and rebounding covers up a lot,” said D’Antoni. “He tells us, ‘Whatever you need it doesn’t matter.’ He gives it all for the team. He’s a champion and is showing why that’s so.”    

Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t have the breakout game everyone has been waiting for, but he did add a solid 14 points. Stoudemire, though, wasn’t his usual active and engaging self — and hasn’t been that way in a long time — as he could only muster five rebounds in the win.

Knicks notes
 
» The Knicks have won 10 of its last 13 games and posted a 10-5 record in Feb. The last time they won as many as 10 in that month was the 1996-97 campaign.   

» The 120 points were a season high, besting two other games in which they tallied 114. The Knicks are now 10-3 when they eclipse the 100-point mark. Their 71 second half points was the most they scored in that span this season.  

» New York shot 50 percent from the field and are unbeaten (3-0) when they do so.
 
» The 68 points in the paint are a season high.

» Despite inexplicably getting shut out of the NBA 3-point shooting contest, Novak has continued his torrid pace behind the arc. He’s now shooting 45.7 percent from 3 and is fifth in the league.   

» Lin registered his fifth double-double of the season.   

» Chandler only had 18 double-doubles all last season in Dallas, but already has 12 this season.

Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.



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