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Knicks' Lin suffers setback, but doesn't rule out returning vs. Heat

MIAMI -- Could Linsanity be back for an encore?

Jeremy Lin, the Knicks' point guard who took the NBA by storm in February, plans to give contact drills a try Tuesday or Wednesday in New York and isn't ruling out a return to action before the end of New York's first-round series against the Miami Heat.

Lin had surgery April 2 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and was estimated to be out for six weeks. He said he was encouraged by how he felt while doing light one-on-one drills for the first time before Game 1 Saturday, though he suffered a setback Sunday when he felt soreness in the knee.

"We're just kind of taking it day-by-day because we just don't know how it's going to respond," Lin said.

Lin ruled out returning for Game 2 Monday or Game 3 Thursday and said he would re-evaluate his status at the end of the week. Asked if Game 4 Sunday at Madison Square Garden would be the earliest he could return, Lin said, "I don't really want to make a promise because I just don't know how I'm going to feel. If I felt good today then that would be more of a possibility, but I didn't feel that great today."

With guard Iman Shumpert lost for 6-8 months with a torn ACL and lateral meniscus suffered in Miami's 100-67 victory in Game 1 Saturday, the Knicks are scrambling with their backcourt rotation. Starting point guard Baron Davis, who complained of a sore back after Saturday's game, vowed Sunday to be ready for Game 2. Coach Mike Woodson said he's still weighing who will start in Shumpert's place, with Landry Fields the likely choice. The loss of Shumpert means that Toney Douglas, who has appeared in only 14 games since Lin took off Feb. 4 against the Nets, is expected to be pressed back into the rotation.

"Hopefully with technology, we can beat that deadline," Woodson said of Lin's original six-week prognosis. "But he had a serious injury and it's going to take some time."

Lin essentially saved the Knicks' season when he led New York to a victory over New Jersey Feb. 4 by coming off the bench with 25 points and seven assists. The Knicks won eight of his first 10 starts in a remarkable run of instant success that captivated the basketball world. The beginning of the end -- for both Lin's winning streak and then-coach Mike D'Antoni's tenure -- came in a Feb. 23 loss at Miami in which Lin was 1-for-11 with eight turnovers.

"That's obviously in my mind," Lin said.

So began a slide during which the Knicks lost eight of nine games, resulting in D'Antoni's resignation. Woodson took over March 14 and went 6-1 with Lin as his point guard before the undrafted Harvard product was injured March 24 against the Pistons.

"I think the sets that we're running in terms of moving the ball and having pick-and-rolls, that's what we've been going to -- mixed in with iso's, too," Lin said. "I think it'll be fine. Once we get out there, I think it will flow naturally."

Lin, speaking with reporters Saturday on the 11th anniversary of the Knicks' last playoff victory against Toronto, has never appeared in a playoff game. Without Shumpert and with Carmelo Anthony's offensive game smothered in Game 1 by Miami's relentless defense, it will take a monumental effort for the Knicks to extend the series long enough for Lin to have an impact.

"Everybody's going to have to do a little bit more -- or a lot more -- due to the lack of players that we have," said Anthony, held to 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting Saturday. "... Our goal was to come down here and win a basketball game, and we still have that opportunity."

Whether the Knicks will get another chance to experience Linsanity before remains to be seen.





 
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