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Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012

Knicks see Lin streak end at seven


NEW YORK — Can't Lin'em all.

News photo
Tough night: New York's Jeremy Lin puts up a jumper over New Orleans' Al-Farouq Aminu in the first half on Friday night. The Hornets beat the Knicks 89-85. AP

Not the way Jeremy Lin handled the ball Friday night, and he put the blame for the loss that halted Linsanity squarely on himself.

Lin committed nine turnovers, tied for the most in the NBA this season, and New York's seven-game winning streak was stopped 89-85 by the New Orleans Hornets.

Lin scored 26 points, but his turnovers nearly doubled his five assists and the Knicks lost for the first time with Lin as a starter, falling back below .500 at 15-16 heading into a matchup with the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

"Just a lackluster effort on my part coming out and careless with the ball, and so nine turnovers is obviously never going to get it done from your primary ballhandler," Lin said. "It's on me in terms of taking care of the ball and also the game in general.

"I think everyone wants to credit me for this last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders and so that's fine with me."

Trevor Ariza scored 25 points for the Hornets, who have won three in a row after a 4-23 start. Marco Belinelli added 17.

Amare Stoudemire had 26 points and 12 rebounds for New York.

Playing for the sixth straight game without injured All-Star Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks missed 20 of their 24 3-point attempts, were only 19 of 29 on free throws and were flat early, quieting a crowd that has been buzzing since Lin joined the rotation.

"Obviously it's very disappointing just because we felt like, I felt like this could've been a good game for us to win," Lin said. "But all the respect to New Orleans for what they did. They came in here with a great game plan and they shot well and they played harder than we did and they got the win."

Down by 12 early in the fourth, New York made a run with Lin on the bench, and cut it to 73-71 when Jared Jeffries hit a free throw after Lin returned during a timeout with 5:29 left.

The Knicks got it down to two again on Lin's free throws with 1:06 to play, but Gustavo Ayon answered with a bucket, Lin missed wildly on a drive to the basket, and when Belinelli's free throws with 25 seconds left made it 87-82, fans began heading for the exits, perhaps in search of Lin-burgers, "Lings" — Asian-spiced chicken wings — or "Lintinis," Lin-spired items that have begun popping up at bars around the city.

"It's the NBA man. I mean the kid is really good. I love his passion. What I love about him is he is so humble. He deserves everything he got right now and everything he is going through because, you know, the way he handles himself," Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez said. "But tonight it was a little bit different. We came out and played great team defense."

Thus ended a remarkable run by the Knicks, who were 8-15 when coach Mike D'Antoni finally turned to Lin, the undrafted point guard from Harvard who was perhaps days from being cut for the third time this season when he got this sputtering team on track.

They only figure to get stronger in the coming days. Anthony worked out before the game and is close to returning, and New York signed his former Denver teammate, J.R. Smith, on Friday. Smith is eligible to return to the NBA after his Chinese team's season ended, and the Knicks believe he will strengthen their poor 3-point shooting.

Lakers 111, Suns 99

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 36 points in the third quarter, Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and the Lakers handed Phoenix its fourth straight loss.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attended the game, capping a four-day visit to the U.S.

Thunder 110, Warriors 87

In Oklahoma City, James Harden scored 25 points, Kevin Durant added 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the hosts completed a season sweep of Golden State.

David Lee led the Warriors with 23 points. Monta Ellis, who scored 48 the last time the teams played, had 11 in this one.

Heat 111, Cavaliers 87

In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 28 points in his third game back to Cleveland as a visitor, Dwyane Wade added 22 and Miami won its fifth straight — all on the road.

Mavericks 82, 76ers 75

In Philadephia, Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and Dallas erased a 15-point deficit with a dominant second half against the hosts.

Jazz 114, Wizards 100

In Salt Lake City, Al Jefferson scored a season-high 34 points, including 26 in the first half, to lead Utah over Washington.

Grizzlies 103, Nuggets 102

In Memphis, Dante Cunningham tipped in Rudy Gay's miss with less than a second left to lift Memphis over Denver.

Bobcats 98, Raptors 91

In Toronto, Reggie Williams scored a season-high 22 points to help Charlotte snap a 16-game losing streak by beating the hosts.

D.J. Augustin had 11 points and 10 assists, Kemba Walker scored 14 points and fellow rookie Bismack Biyombo had a career-high 13 rebounds for the Bobcats.

Magic 94, Bucks 85

In Orlando, Dwight Howard had 26 points and 20 rebounds as the Magic rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Milwaukee.

Pistons 114, Kings 108

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Rodney Stuckey scored a season-high 36 points and rookie Brandon Knight added 23 points and 10 assists to help Detroit rally past Sacramento.

Timberwolves 111, Rockets 98

In Houston, Kevin Love scored 33 points, including eight straight during a key fourth-quarter stretch, and Nikola Pekovic added a career-high 30 to lead Minnesota past the hosts.

Note: Staff writer Ed Odeven's roundup of Saturday's nine bj-league games is posted on The Japan Times' website.

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