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.

Since: Oct 30, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:48 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

That would make sense... but the world would hate? Um... isn't Tebow the number one favorite sports athlete in at least America? And hes absolutely terrible?

Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:42 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Very, very well put!  I am a big sports fan, who has spent the last 35 years working in the jungles of west New Guinea, Irian Jaya/Papua, Indonesia.  Just as there is a place for true science and true faith to fit together, so there is a place for a little fanaticism in both sports and faith.  There are limits of course, but, seeing I "work" in the faith realm, I do not see Tebow exceeding good limits, for the most part.  Hope Lin does well too.

(By the way, I'd love to get acquainted.  Check with me on Facebook at Roger Ernest Doriot, or Roger Doriot, or

Since: May 15, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:14 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Congrats to Lin on his current success...

For the record, I am not a bandwagon Lin or Tebow fan and don't particularly care whether they have successful sports careers or not.
I do find it interesting though that they are being compared for their totally unexpected recent successes which just happen to correspond with a resolute faith in God as well as a penchant for continually giving Him credit.   The other thing I find interesting is how it continues to divide fans who have no actual rooting interest in either the Broncos or Knicks. 

However,  I am not surprised by these things.  Jesus clearly indicated that the world would hate those who stand up for Him.  We saw it clearly with Tebow and now it is Lin's turn.  Wake up sports fans!!! God is trying to get our attention in these last days and will use any means necessary.  He will even allow players with questionable ability to rise to prominence if it might make us stop and consider whether He is real and active or not. (btw- if you truly want to know why bad things happen to good people,etc. I invite you to study for yourself at  )
One need not be a Harvard graduate to grasp all these things, but I am glad to know that at least one Harvard grad does get it!  

Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:11 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin is just taking advantage of the fact that he is all the Knicks got during this stretch - When their team comes back to full strength he will once again become and afterthought and the rest of his career will be irrelevant.

Since: May 6, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 4:04 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

What NAVY2323 said. .

Since: Feb 2, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:50 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Been watching NBA since '69. Got one word for you: Lin-fad

Since: Feb 12, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:46 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:33 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I'm a Knicks fan, but come on.  They need to deduct reputation points for comparing Jeremy Lin and Michael Jordan.  That's ridiculous.  Did Jordan ever go 8-24?  Yes.  Has Jeremy Lin been vaulted into a conversation with arguably the greatest player ever to grace an NBA court?  Hell no.  I'm excited that Lin is clearly a serviceable PG if nothing else.  I'm excited that Melo and Amare are on the way back.  I'm excited that when Baron Davis returns we will have 2 solid PG's.  More than anything, I'm excited we've won 5 games in a row when our season was on the brink of disaster.  I love this story and it has been truly remarkable to watch Lin, but lets not go so crazy as to ignore reality.  Reality is that Lin is exactly what the Knicks needed, but when Amare and Melo return he will be, at best, the 3rd best player on the floor for the Knicks.  A little perspective folks, that's all I'm suggesting.

Since: Dec 24, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:16 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

The knicks will get better and better once there two stars come back . Lin has done a great job and is for real, and with two legit scorers coming back soon he will only improve even more. Remember it took the Heat some time last year to figure things out and the knicks now have a point gaurd who can dish it and swish it . Winning gets contagious and I think the Knicks will start to gel just like Frazier and Monroe did back in the ealy 70s.

Since: May 28, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:15 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

he had a bad shooting night?big deal!!jordan never shot 8-24?we'll see how lin will handle the selfish carmelo return.i'm not sure the festering cancer anthony will allow lin to outshine him.if he will take a back seat and get the ball to amare every once in a while,the knicks could have somthing here.

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