New York can be a notoriously fickle sports town. But do something great and the fans will certainly stand up and take notice. Literally.
Just ask the newest Garden sensation, Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
Lin moved into the starting lineup Monday night after a star-making performance against New Jersey over the weekend. Doing it once was one thing, but when he had 28 points and eight assists against the Jazz on Monday he received standing ovations and, yes, MVP?chants.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I knew I was going to do this or whatever,” Lin said after Monday’s game. “But I got an opportunity. I thank God for it. ... I don’t think anyone, including myself, saw this coming.”
In Saturday’s game against New Jersey, Lin’s first prolonged playing time, and then again against Utah, head coach Mike D’Antoni gave the ball to Lin and let him run wild down the stretch.
“I’m riding him like freakin’ Secretariat,” D’Antoni said after Monday’s win.
The good news is Lin has taken the reins for two straight games. The bad news is he will have to keep it up with Amar’e Stoudemire out indefinitely after the death of his brother Monday and now Carmelo Anthony out with a right groin strain.
“It can be a two-time wonder,” Lin said. “That’s what I’m worried about.”
If he is going to make it three straight name-making performances he will have to do it against John Wall. To say Lin isn’t the most athletic guard isn’t to state the obvious. Lin knows the opposite is true about Wall.
“He’s probably the fastest guard in the league,” Lin said. “I know I’m going to have more than my hands full tomorrow, so I’m going to watch some tape and see what I can do to pick up some tendencies or something.”
But surprising people, including his coach, isn’t new.
“I had no idea [how he’d do],” D’Antoni said. “There were little bits and pieces. There were some glimmers, but there other things I questioned because I didn’t know and I was afraid to do anything.”
With Amar’e Stoudemire out due to the tragic passing of his brother, Hazell, the Knicks were already down a star. Yesterday, the Knicks announced they would be without forward Carmelo Anthony for one to two weeks as well.
The Knicks travel to Washington to face the Wizards tonight (7 p.m., MSG) and then will host the Los Angeles Lakers in a nationally televised game on ESPN Friday at 8 p.m.