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: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:08 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I have just threatned everyone on MY Facebook that If I hear "I love the knicks" one more time they will be punished...NO they are NOT a real Knicks fan and for anyone to hate J-Lin...your a moron....This kid is def special and all we needed was a good QB point gurad and we may have found him.....

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:59 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

OH MY GOD - the guy is carrying an already underachieving team without it's two biggest (most overpaid) stars. He falls out of the sky, has 5 straight beastly games (4 starts) over the course of 6 nights, logging 39 mins per! He was wearing down. And he has fully energized a fan base that this team was starting to lose after 20 games. But it proves my point  that D'Antoni is not a bad coach, but one that was neutered by not having a point guard. Now that he has a true PG, once he gets his stars back, and with the nbew defensive minded effort, this team can go far into the play-offs... probably a lucky bounce or two from making a real serious run.

Since: Jan 17, 2012
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:53 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

your nuts    give up give up 3 useful pieces for nash who can u get next yr if needed as afree agent ?      its the carmelo trade all over again     
make a trade when team is cohesive and give away your entire depth     
      if your talking cp3 or deron williams  maybe    but nash?     okay have a good     Lets see what haps with Lin   when amare and melo come back    keep melo away from the 1st team    put him on 2nd team     hes a diff player    isolation is his game     
     If you want to trade a player   do melo and amare  for howard or lebron     
; or melo for deron williams    &nb
sp;    should get interesting if  jr smith decides on Knicks     
;      would have a nice starting five and nice bench as well    

Since: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:41 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Lin has heart and plays hard, that can carry you far when you have NBA level talent. Let's not forget Knicks fans Anthony Mason and John Starks both became All-Stars after not being drafted. As long as he keeps working hard he can be a decent player. 

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:28 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I think the Knicks may have won with Lin in two different ways. They have found a guy who provides a spark to the team and at the same time with Carmello out and Stoudemire out they have been able to showcase Lin as possible trade bait in a package for a veteran PG. Lin is a nice player but still raw.......the Knicks may have the assets to go after a Steve Nash now if they are willing to give up Fields and Lin and another piece. What do the Knicks fans think?........stay with Lin or go after a veteran?

Since: Nov 6, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:16 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

You are 100% correct on everything that you said. There is no professionalism in the Media anymore. These guys are a bunch of clowns trying to tear everyone apart. It's very upsetting to read articles on the net.

Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:11 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

I only hope that Melo and Amare can leave their egos at home when they return.  Join the LIN express and they'll have a chance at the playoffs. If they can't play with this guy then get rid of them and bring some basketball back to NY.  Big names on the jerseys might sell merchandise but it won't win games... AKA the Jerry Jones business model that still hasn't worked in Dallas.

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:09 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

    I'm sure after the game D'antoni was whipping Lin around saying 20 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals was a horrrible game and unacceptable by Lin standards. I mean cmon any coach would love to have those numbers consistently from their pg and he has been putting them up.I watched the game last night and the kid in the 3rd period along with most of the team looked like they were just going to pass out at any moment on the court, and who can blame them. I want to see anybody here who doens't believe in this kid go for 40 minutes and torch Kobe for 38 points then right after the game get on a plane to fly to the midwest, get no rest for real and then log another 35+ mins against the T-wolves and lead the team to a W. Also he only had a bad half in the first half he had 15 points on 7-11 shooting and 5 assists, schooled ridenour on a sick crossover step back j,took it to the lane threw and around love, and then by the 2nd half the gas tank was on E and who can blame him. Most important thing is we got the W

Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:03 pm

Let the great Lin debate begin

Well said Outlaw!  Keep it going Lin!

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:56 am

Let the great Lin debate begin

Point one: The Knicks nor Lin care one iota about what anyone writes about the game. Why? They won on a night that evidently was not perfect or fully functional. But they won ugly, and close. That will matter in defining them further.

Point Two: Lin did not jump in and perform at the level he did because he was seeking adulation, fame or publicity. In fact, no statement he has made would indicate anything other than appreciative for the opportunity to contribute, and help the team win.

So why is the media fascinated with creating overnight sensations? Simple - they have the attentnion span and perspective capabilities of a fruit fly. They lay claim to creating and destroying things that make it seem (to them at least) that the game needs them.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or