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Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Lin comes up big again as Knicks win


NEW YORK — Mike D'Antoni shook his fists in the air as Jeremy Lin's clutch shot fell through the net.

News photo
Guts and glory: New York's Jeremy Lin drives past Utah's Earl Watson in the second half on Monday night. Lin scored 28 points as the Knicks beat the Jazz 99-88. AP

It wasn't just the basket that had D'Antoni giddy. It's the feeling that he's found the point guard who can get his offense running.

"It's fun, you can actually draw a play up and (say), this might work," D'Antoni said. "So it was good."

Lin, the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in the NBA, scored a career-high 28 points in his first career start, Steve Novak added a season-best 19, and the New York Knicks overcame the absence of Amare Stoudemire and early loss of Carmelo Anthony to beat the Utah Jazz 99-88 on Monday night.

Stoudemire left the team to join his family in Florida after older brother Hazell was killed there earlier Monday in a car crash, then Anthony left after just six minutes with a strained right groin.

Despite missing two All-Stars and using a lineup of second-teamers, the Knicks won their second straight thanks to another remarkable performance from Lin, the former Harvard point guard.

"Basketball's so fun when you play on a team where people want to work together and work through tough times and overcome them and have victories like this," Lin said. "This one was ugly and we lost a couple of players, but this team has a lot of will."

Al Jefferson scored 22 points in a disappointing effort for the Jazz, who may have lost their edge when they saw who the Knicks were missing.

"As you seen out there tonight, you come in here with that attitude, you're in trouble," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "These guys can play, man, and they got pride. They get an opportunity to play and they make the most of their minutes.

"They stuck it to us, really."

Going nowhere all season without a real point guard, the Knicks turned to Lin on Saturday against New Jersey, and he delivered 25 points. He was even better in this one in front of a crowd that again chanted his name much of the night, adding a career-best eight assists.

He made the biggest basket of a game, a desperation 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and 1:58 remaining that gave the Knicks a 95-86 lead. He previously converted two three-point plays in the period, the latter pushing the lead to 10 with 4:29 left.

He did have eight turnovers, surely influenced by fatigue while playing 45 minutes, but D'Antoni was going to keep riding him.

"I'm riding him like freakin' Secretariat," D'Antoni said.

Lin and Novak, whose photocopied bios are included in the game notes package because they were signed too late to make the media guide, helped the Knicks overcome the absence of about 42 points per game from their two stars. So did Jared Jeffries, who added 13 points and eight rebounds while battling the much bigger Utah front line.

"It wasn't the starters out there but it was definitely guys that are aware that this is the NBA, where on any given night any five can beat any five," Novak said. "That's kind of an understood thing in the NBA . . ."

76ers 95, Lakers 90

In Philadephia, Lou Williams nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer, scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, and spoiled Kobe Bryant's record-setting night while leading the 76ers to a win over Los Angeles.

With "Beat L.A.!" echoing through a second straight sellout crowd, Williams hit the tying jumper, then followed with the 3 for a 91-88 lead. He hit another floater to make it 93-88, part of a fantastic fourth that saw him hold off Bryant and help the Sixers improve to 13-3 at home.

Bryant scored 24 of his 28 points in the first half. He passed former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and moved into fifth place on the NBA's career scoring list. Bryant got 24 points in a hurry to pass O'Neal, but stumbled down the stretch and missed nine of his 10 shots in the fourth.

Clippers 107, Magic 102

In Orlando, Chris Paul scored 29 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and Los Angeles overcame a 15-point first-half deficit and slipped by the Magic.

The Clippers may have lost Chauncey Billups for an extended period after he slipped and left in the fourth quarter with a left Achilles injury.

Dwight Howard had 33 points and 14 rebounds, and Jason Richardson 20 points for the Magic.

Wizards 111, Raptors 108 (OT)

In Washington, John Wall scored 31 points, Nick Young had a season-high 29 and Trevor Booker added a season-high 19 as the Wizards blew an 18-point third-quarter lead and then hung on to beat Toronto in overtime.

Thunder 111, Blazers 107 (OT)

In Portland, Kevin Durant had 33 points, including a dunk with 2.9 seconds left in overtime, and Oklahoma City defeated the Trail Blazers.

Suns 99, Hawks 90

In Atlanta, Steve Nash scored 24 points and Phoenix broke open a close game with a 24-6 run to close the third quarter and beat the Hawks.

Bulls 108, Nets 87

In Newark, New Jersey, Carlos Boozer scored 24 points to lead Chicago to an easy victory over the hosts.

Kings 100, Hornets 92

In New Orleans, DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 19 rebounds, and Sacramento erased an 18-point deficit en route to a victory over the slumping Hornets.

Spurs 89, Grizzlies 84

In Memphis, Tony Parker scored 21 points, and Tim Duncan added 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead San Antonio over the Grizzlies.

Rockets 99, Nuggets 90

In Denver, Luis Scola scored 25 points and Houston handed the injury-riddled Nuggets their third straight loss.

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