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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Novak demonstrating he deserves place in NBA


MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee is just about the only place New York Knicks forward Steve Novak would draw more TV cameras than far more famous teammate Jeremy Lin.

Novak may have been buried in the avalanche of Lin hype, but the former Marquette star quietly is proving he deserves a place in the NBA. After bouncing around among four teams in his first five seasons, Novak finally has found a productive home in Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense.

Going into Friday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Novak was No. 2 in the NBA in 3-point percentage, shooting 47.7 percent. Coming off the bench, he has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 15 games.

He credits his success to the Knicks' aggressive offense and the play of his teammates — especially Lin.

"The way he finds guys in the right spots, gets them the ball, is incredible," Novak said before Friday morning's shootaround. "He's easy to play with. He puts so much pressure on the defenses. As a shooter, it's kind of a dream come true."

New York came to Milwaukee having lost three straight and six of nine. But when the Knicks are at their best, they can score inside or from the perimeter — and Novak has cashed in when his better-known teammates draw the attention of defenders.

"Defenses do have to decide who they're going to guard that night a lot of times," Novak said. "I think because we do have the inside presence, we do have the perimeter presence, and Jeremy and Baron (Davis) really operating it, it makes it tough."

While Lin usually has the spotlight, he believes teammates such as Novak should get more credit.

"Yeah, definitely," Lin said. "As a team, I wish credit was more distributed evenly according to what we do. I think a lot of it has unnecessarily fallen on me, but this team has done a great job, we've stayed together and we're just continuing to build."

Milwaukee is Novak's turf. He grew up in the area and played at Marquette, making the Final Four in 2003 with Dwyane Wade.

Given the demands of friends and family, Novak was leaning on teammates for tickets to Friday night's game. His family was expected to be there — once his sister's high school game is over, of course.

"We're going to try to sneak in as soon as we can," said Novak's father, Mike, who coached him in high school and now is the athletic director at nearby Brown Deer High School.

Steve has been in the NBA since 2006, but Mike Novak is now getting to watch his son play in a meaningful role.

"This is Steve's sixth year," Mike Novak said. "He's worked really hard. He's always been the shooter that you see out there now. He just needed the time and the opportunity. . ."

Editor's 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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