Move over Eli Manning and make way for New York’s latest sports hero Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. The second-year player got his first NBA start on Monday night as the Knicks hosted the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. The home team started the contest without the services of Amar’s Stoudemire, who was with his family after the death of his brother in a car crash. Six minutes into the game New York lost Carmelo Anthony for the rest of the night as he strained his right groin. Despite the depleted roster Lin showed that he was worthy of the confidence that head coach Mike D’Antoni had in him when he gave him the start. He knocked down a career high 28 points while dishing off 8 assists as New York won their second straight contest beating Utah 99-88.
Lin earned the start on Monday, due to his performance in the win against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday, as he came off the bench and scored 25 points. The club has had problems all season long at the point; as Toney Douglas lost his starting job to rookie Iman Shumpert. The rookie could not run the offense adequately however as the team waits for veteran Baron Davis to recover from back problems. At least for this game Lin was up to the task. Forward Steve Novak stepped it up as he came off the bench and added 19 points when Anthony left the contest. Al Jefferson scored 22 points for Utah in the loss.
Both teams must have left their offense in the locker room during the first 12 minutes of play; as it did not make an appearance on the floor. Douglas would drain an outside jumper with 44 seconds remaining and the Knicks would end the period on top 19-16. New York would open the second on a 16-4 run and would hold a 35-20 advantage when Shumpert knocked down an outside shot with 6:50 left in the period. With 27 seconds to play Novak buried a 24 foot trey and the Knicks would enter the locker room at the half holding the upper hand at 51-38.
Utah responded when the game resumed cutting their deficit to five points as veteran Raja Bell hit a pair at the line with 8:17 in the third making it a 59-54 contest. New York would put a little more of a cushion on their lead and were able to maintain it until with 45 seconds remaining Bell drained a 25 foot trey cutting the home team’s lead to 75-73 at the conclusion of the quarter. It would be at that point when Lin would take over the game scoring 13 of his team’s 24 points in the quarter to lead the Knicks to their second straight victory.
Lin scored 28 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in the win for New York. Novak came off the bench with 19 points and 2 rebounds while Jared Jeffries had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, an assist and a block. Bill Walker would come in off of the pine and add 11 points while Tyson Chandler chipped in 10 points for the night.
Jefferson knocked down 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a block. Bell had 15 points, 4 rebounds and a steal while Gordon Hayward added 14 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, a block and a steal. New York now has a record of 10-15 and travel to Washington where they will face the Wizards on Wednesday while Utah are now at 13-10 and head to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Tuesday.