Lin got New York’s final six points tonight to lead the team with 27 points, taking his tally to 161 since he jump- started New York’s longest unbeaten streak since it went 7-0 from March 28 to April 10 last season.
Amar’e Stoudemire added 21 points in his return after missing four games while mourning the death of his older brother in a car crash. The Knicks trailed 86-77 with three minutes, 57 seconds remaining before out-scoring Toronto 13-1.
“Everyone’s smiling, there’s a new energy, everyone’s just excited,” Lin told reporters at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. “We’re coming together as a team.”
The Knicks trailed by five points with 1:31 remaining. Iman Shumpert’s dunk pulled them within three and Lin’s 3-point play with 1:05 remaining tied the game at 87-87.
Each team missed a shot before Lin hit a 3-pointer with nine-tenths of a second remaining to give the Knicks their only lead since midway through the first quarter.
The Knicks, who are third in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division, improve to 14-15, while Toronto drops to 9-21 with its sixth defeat in eight games this month.
Dumped By Two Teams
Lin, the first Harvard graduate to reach the NBA since Ed Smith made 11 appearances for the Knicks in 1953-54, was cut by his hometown Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets before joining the Knicks on Dec. 27.
Before tonight, he averaged 26.8 points and eight assists since coming off the bench to lead the Knicks to a 99-92 win against the New Jersey Nets Feb. 4. In his prior nine games for the Knicks, Lin averaged 3.6 points and 1.9 assists.
His performance against the Nets earned him a first career start two days later against the Utah Jazz, when top scorer Carmelo Anthony injured his groin. Lin’s performances since -- including a career-high 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers -- made him the first player in NBA history to score at least 20 points and collect seven assists in his first four starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
His exploits in the absence of Anthony and Stoudemire have helped drive shares in Knicks owner Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) to a record, while making his jersey the No. 1 seller in the league.
The Knicks, who lost 11 of 13 games prior to the Feb. 4 win against the Nets, host the Sacramento Kings tomorrow to begin a five-game homestand that also includes a visit by the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
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