Jeremy Lin did it again, hitting a 3-pointer in the final second to give the New York Knicks their sixth straight victory and export “Linsanity” to Canada.
Lin began and ended a 13-1 scoring run over the final three minutes, 57 seconds last night as the Knicks rallied for a 90-87 win against the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. He scored the final six points of the game, finishing with 27 points and a career-high 11 assists.
“You just watch and you’re in awe,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “He held it until five tenths of a second left. He was pretty confident that it was going in, no rebounds, no nothing. That ball was being buried.”
The Knicks (14-15) trailed by five points with 1:31 remaining. Iman Shumpert’s steal and dunk pulled them within three and Lin’s three-point play with 1:05 remaining tied the game at 87-87.
Each team missed a shot before Lin hit a 3-pointer with the clock winding down to give the Knicks their first lead since midway through the first quarter.
“I’m thankful that my coach and teammates trust me with the ball at the end of the game,” Lin said in a news conference. “I like having it at the end of the game.”
Amar’e Stoudemire had 21 points and nine rebounds in his return after missing four games -- Lin’s first four career starts -- while mourning the death of his older brother in a car crash.
Undrafted From Harvard
Lin, 23, wasn’t drafted after graduation from Harvard University and then was cut by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before being signed by the Knicks on Dec. 27.
He was a bench player for New York until this month and has averaged 26.8 points per game while leading the Knicks to their longest winning streak since a seven-game run through April 10 last season.
His exploits in the absence of Stoudemire and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony, who has a groin strain, have helped drive shares in Knicks owner Madison Square Garden Co. to a record while making his jersey the league’s No. 1 seller online.
Lin is the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent and last night’s game drew a season-best 20,092 fans for the Raptors. Statistics Canada’s 2006 profile found that about one-third of Toronto’s estimated 2.5 million residents were of Asian ethnicity.
The Toronto crowd went wild when the Knicks’ point guard hit the decisive shot, the latest example of what has been dubbed by the team as ``Linsanity.''
‘Continues to Impress’
“He continues to impress every night,” New York’s Jared Jeffries told reporters. “Every game he plays better, he does more and more to help us win basketball games. You can’t ask any more of a kid coming into this situation.”
Lin finished 9-for-20 from the field, hitting both of his 3-point attempts. He tied a career high with eight turnovers. Point guard Jose Calderon had 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Toronto (9-21).
Calderon had two 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that put Toronto up 22-13 in the first quarter. Stoudemire left the game at that point and Lin, who had been held scoreless, responded with two quick layups.
Lin, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, committed turnovers on three straight possessions as Toronto pulled ahead 34-21 in the second quarter.
Lin had nine points, six assists and five turnovers at the half and the Knicks trailed 47-36.
The Knicks never got closer than seven points in the third quarter and trailed 78-66 with 11 minutes left before drawing within two points on a 10-0 run.
Lin said it was great to have Stoudemire back in the lineup.
“It’s going to take a little bit of adjustment, but he’s unbelievable,” Lin said. “We’ll go through bumps, but I think we made improvements throughout the game.”
The Knicks, who will try to get back to a .500 record when they host the Sacramento Kings tonight at Madison Square Garden, will have to adjust again when Anthony returns this week.
“He’s breathed life back into that franchise where Carmelo Anthony couldn’t, and now all of a sudden you have this great story of can Carmelo submit to this undrafted free agent from Harvard,” Steve Kerr, an NBA analyst for Time Warner Inc.’s TNT network, said yesterday on a conference call with reporters. “It’s a crazy story, but it’s fantastic.”