Jeremy Lin switched to playmaker from leading scorer as he handed out a career-high 13 assists to help the New York Knicks win a seventh straight game.
Lin, who left last night’s game at Madison Square Garden near the end of the third quarter with the Knicks leading by 21 points, was one of seven New York players to score at least 10 points in a 100-85 home win against the Sacramento Kings. The 23-year-old point guard has scored 146 points in his first six National Basketball Association starts.
“I don’t know when there’s an ending, maybe there won’t,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters.
On Feb. 14, Harvard University graduate Lin became the only player to score more than 20 points and win each of his first five starts since the NBA merged with the American Basketball Association in 1976. Lin wasn’t drafted after graduation from Harvard and was cut by two NBA teams before joining the Knicks on Dec. 27.
Landry Fields led New York last night with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Bill Walker and reserve Steve Novak each contributed 14 as the Knicks hit 51 percent of their field goal attempts. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 11 points, one more than Lin, who played 26 minutes.
“I just tried to move the ball around,” Lin said. “When we have guys like Amar’e and Landry, I just throw the ball up and they go and get it. They make me look good.”
Lin opened the scoring with a three-point play and gave the Knicks a lead that they’d never relinquish with a layup to make it 9-7 with eight minutes, 56 seconds to play in the first quarter.
A .500 Record
New York led 25-17 after the first quarter, 54-36 at halftime and 77-55 with one quarter to play.
After committing a career-high eight turnovers two nights ago, Lin had a team-high six turnovers against the Kings.
“It’s something I’ve got to work on because my turnovers are sky high,” Lin said. “I’m still making a lot of mistakes, but being able to play through that, grow as a player and build on my confidence was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
The Knicks improved to 15-15, the first time they’ve held a .500 record since Jan. 14. Before last night, New York hadn’t won seven in a row since April 10 last season.
During their 8-15 start to the season, the Knicks used Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert and Mike Bibby at point guard before turning to Lin.
The 6-foot-3 Lin scored 28 points in his first career start against the Utah Jazz on Feb. 6 and then had 23 points and 10 assists in a win against Washington two days later. He contributed a career-high 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 10, and had 20 points against Minnesota the following day. Two nights ago, he hit the winning 3-pointer in the final second against the Toronto Raptors and totaled 27 points and 11 assists.
Last night’s win moved New York within one game of tying the Boston Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference’s five-team Atlantic Division behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics lost 98-88 at home last night to the Detroit Pistons.
The Knicks have been playing without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who is recovering from a groin strain and may return this weekend, the New York Times reported.
The Knicks, who lost 11 of 13 games prior to the Feb. 4 win against the Nets, continue their five-game homestand against the New Orleans Hornets tomorrow before hosting the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks two days later.
Tyreke Evans scored 19 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 15 for the Kings (10-19), who hit 38 percent of their attempts from the floor.
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