Jeremy Lin made the Knicks' first basket of the game, but then decided this was going to be a night when he showed off his facilitating more so than his scoring.
Lin picked apart the Sacramento Kings' league-worst defense Wednesday night. He set up his teammates for dunks and layups in another standout performance that illustrated how he can control a game -- in just his sixth NBA start.
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The point guard sensation's streak of 20-point games ended at six, but he had a career-best 13 assists and guided the Knicks to their seventh consecutive victory. They buried the Kings, 100-85 at the Garden and climbed back to .500 (15-15) on the season.
Lin, who attempted 44 shots the past two games, was 4-for-6 from the field and scored 10 points in 27 minutes.
"As a point guard, my field goal attempts have been really high," Lin said. "I don't think that's necessarily good. I think it's more my job to distribute, get guys in rhythm."
Lin did that, less than 24 hours after cementing his place as New York's sweetheart by scoring 27 points and burying the game-winning three in Toronto on Val-Lin-tine's Day.
He received a standing ovation during pregame introductions last night. Then he brought the crowd to its feet many more times with his play.
He drove, was fouled and scored inside 32 seconds into the game. Lin also fed Landry Fields and Tyson Chandler for alley-oop dunks, and dished off to Amar'e Stoudemire for a slam that put the Knicks up 10.
This was just the first 5:30 of the game. But the tone was set. In the second half, Fields cut back door and Lin led him with a nifty bounce pass for a layup.
"I think that's where he'll make his most progress," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Just read the situation and if the situation calls for him to score he'll score. If they double or don't want him to or somebody else is scoring then the ball goes some place else.
"I'm really happy with 10 points and 13 assists. That's great on a night like that. The next time he might have to get 30 to win. Whatever we need to win, I think he'll do it."
Fields had a strong game, finishing with 15 points. He shot 6-for-8, and had 10 rebounds and five assists. Steve Novak and Chandler each had 14 points. Stoudemire had a quiet night with 11 points in 27 minutes.
Lin didn't play in the fourth quarter of the blowout and was serenaded with chants of "We want Lin."
As significant as Lin continuing his run as the perfect starting point guard (6-0) was, what it meant for the Knicks mattered most. They haven't been .500 since Jan. 14 and were a season-low seven games under after their Feb. 3 loss in Boston. The next night the Lin-sanity began when Lin came off the bench and led the Knicks to a win over the Nets.
"We were just trying to find a way to play well," D'Antoni said. "You don't want to slip too far from the playoff spot. All our energy was finding the six, seven, eight, 10 guys that mesh and play the type of basketball that can win every night."
Lin apparently was the missing ingredient. He's lifted the energy in the building, the confidence of the team and the chemistry. Everyone is getting involved.
Fields had a few good passes. One turned into a Chandler slam. Another resulted in Novak getting a three from right in front of the Knicks' bench that he converted into a four-point play.
Lin had nine assists at the half, including four lobs for dunks. He ended the half driving against the Kings' matador defense and giving the ball to Chandler for a slam with 1.7 seconds left. "He has a great ability to run an offense," Chandler said. "Coach his entire career has had the ability to make point guards great. Jeremy has come in and fulfilled that role."