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Blog Entry

Let the great Lin debate begin

Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:51 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 1:19 am
 
Jeremy Lin was just 8-24 from the field Saturday but still got the win. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

And now the fun part begins. Jeremy Lin is no longer undeniable nor deniable after the Knicks100-98 win over the Timberwolves. Let me take you down the road of point/counterpoint that will be hashed and re-hashed over the next 48 hours.

"Lin got the win, that's all that matters."

"Lin was inefficient and missed 14 shots from the field."

"Lin managed to pull 20 points and 8 assists while playing a quality defensive team surrounded by Tyson Chandler, Steve Novak, and Landry Fields as his best weapons."

"A good story doesn't erase a poor game."

"It was the Knicks' third game in four nights, and a back-to-back. The kid has logged long minutes. Everyone gets tired this year."

"It was against the 13-15 Timberwolves." 

"The Wolves are 15th in efficiency differential (12th in defensive efficiency), were above .500 before the Kevin Love suspension. And didn't the win over the Lakers kill the 'strength of schedule' argument?"

"The defense figured him out in the second half."

"Not enough."

And both sides are correct. It was not a great performance by Lin, but it was enough to help the Knicks win. It was inefficient, but highly productive. Lin made some poor plays, and some brilliant ones. Lin is entering the next phase of what happens when you're a phenomenon. And while Lin is not worthy of being compared to the great players of this league, not even close, if we examine this five game stretch as a microcosm of how analysts, fans, and media react to polarizing players, this is the next evolution.

Good enough for the supporters to herald, poor enough for the backlash to begin. Did he win the game, even when he hit the game-winning free throw, or was it defense and poor execution by Minnesota late that kept the Knicks' Linning streak alive? Did he struggle because he was exhausted from hoisting a team without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, half their payroll, and on a back-to-back, third-in-four? Or was it Minnesota figuring him out?

The debate will rage. His supporters are validated by the simplified 20-8-6-3 line and a win, the backlash buoyed by his turnovers and shooting percentage. And the answer lies in the middle.

Lin was clearly exhausted, as the elevation on his second-half shots reveals. He would land and take longer to recover to his feet. He looked winded, he drifted to the edges at times, and admitted after the game everyone was tired.

But Lin also admitted that the Timberwolves did a good job defending him. And they did. It's been no secret since Lin's first explosive performance that the key is forcing him left. Lin is notably weaker with his left, and in fact, the Wolves shaded him constantly to his left. When Lin attempted to move right in the pick and roll, a second defender would pop to the elbow to drive him back left.

That said, Lin missed several very makeable shots going to his left, including a floater over Nikola Pekovic and a bank shot over Love. Pekovic may have been the biggest difference maker. Not only did he challenge Lin at the rim, but he managed to keep with him laterally without fouling. Most teams don't have a defender of that quality (speaking of players who came out of nowhere), but it does show that Lin is more than mortal.

And yet.

Lin also forced several possessions, often getting into the air and trying to finish with floaters over three defenders instead of passing out to a wide-open corner man, which he has done so much during this streak. Some of that is exhaustion wearing on his decision-making. Some of it is just forcing it.

Do we need to make excuses, though? Hasn't Lin already proved himself, especially since he had a poor game by the new established standards for him and still won the game with 20 points and 8 rebounds? Should we hold him to a higher standard, considering what should be lowered expectations?

It's too late for all that. This thing has taken on a life of its own. And you have to wonder if that was the real difference against Minnesota. The Knicks played well defensively. They got some breaks. Lin was productive but not efficient. But as much as I try and boil things down to metrics and plays and X's and O's, it's hard to watch this game and not walk away with a simple conclusion.

Some things can't be stopped. And while the rollercoaster has to end sometime, right now? Nothing has been able to stop Linsanity. Minnesota is just the latest to experience it.
Comments

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:36 am
 

Sports4life

And let me guess, you hate gays, believe the world is 6,000 years old, don't believe in the separation of church and state, and are currently awaiting the rapture.....EASY to make generalizations. Grow up douche.
I forgot Sports4life, it's only ok to make over the top sweeping generalizations when you're liberal because, hey, it's the cliche thing to do.  Free pass.  When responding to a sweeping generalization that poses poor analogies in an unnecessary attempt to undercut a valid point, it's completely legitimate to do the same.


dlopez711
Since: Feb 11, 2012
Posted on: February 13, 2012 5:53 pm
This comment has been removed.

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dlopez711
Since: Feb 11, 2012
Posted on: February 13, 2012 5:49 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:55 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

That was directed @Sports4life.



Since: Mar 26, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:55 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

And let me guess...you're from New York, you like the Knicks, and you like watching basketball. Ha. I have you figured out.



Since: Jul 5, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:27 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

AFter 20 games NYN could be 15-5.

Like Larry Bird, Lin makes other team members rise to the top.

Coach has to step in to tell superstars Melo he'll get points but doesn't have to be top banana on the team.




Since: Jan 31, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:55 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

Shao Lin Master, bring basketball back to New York is a great thing! The Mecca of basketball has a master it Jeremy Shao Lin .Who's the Master? Shao Lin ! Look as long they play team basketball things will be good! The Knick didnot have a Win streak when The two Superstar were on the court! Melo had to learn how to play with Amare ! Really then get hurts! How some kid from Harvard doing justice for the Fans of the Knicks. I been waiting for the spark form the Knicks and it is here. We got the Giant winning the SuperBowl and Ranger playing Good hockey! Yankees making moves! Winning is great for New York! we are winning town! Don't hate on the Shao Lin Master! bad things will happen to you! Go New York!



Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

Agreed Rivera, a quality PG to run this offense is what we were missing. With Lin installed (and Douglas at the end of the bench), we have someone who can pull-off the pick-and-roll with Amar'e as well as move the ball around...My biggest fear right now is when Melo comes back, if he continues the ball stopping it will disrupt the offensive flow we've been having...Hopefully he realizes we've been winning WITHOUT him, and he doesn't need to do everything...perhaps he can even use some energy now to focus on defense....Either way, I bet a lot of teams are starting to take notice of us again...



Since: Jul 21, 2009
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:35 pm
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

I think Mike D'Antoini is smart enough to realize that he can finally run his offense again now that he has a bonifide point guard. With that being said, in the past 5 games or so we saw the potential of this Knick team and it's a dangerous one. With Amare and Carmelo back it seems Amare will be focused on the pick and roll game and Carmelo will be focused on jump shooting as opposed to ball handling like before. The future is bright in my opinion for the Knicks.



Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: February 13, 2012 11:44 am
 

Let the great Lin debate begin

" Let me take a gigantic leap here...you also love Hybrid cars, Universal Health Insurance, Wealth Redistribution.  Furthermore, you hate Christmas, Corporations and Private Schools.  "


And let me guess, you hate gays, believe the world is 6,000 years old, don't believe in the separation of church and state, and are currently awaiting the rapture.....EASY to make generalizations. Grow up douche.



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