Knicks execute key play perfectly

 Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks

Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks brings the ball up court against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Feb. 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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MINNEAPOLIS -- This was a case of practice making perfect.

During the Knicks' pregame walk-through Saturday, they went over a play in which Tyson Chander sets a screen for Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin delivers him the ball. Then in the game, they executed it perfectly. Novak was open from the left wing and buried a three-pointer that tied it at 98 with 36.2 seconds left. The Knicks went on to beat the Timberwolves, 100-98.

When they went over it in the huddle, Chandler let Novak know he would be unguarded.

"I told Novak, 'I'm going to get you open,' " Chandler said. " 'You'll get the wide-open look.' We got him open and he knocked down the shot.

"We all had it fresh in our minds," Novak said. "In the timeout, Tyson said, 'Hey, I'm going to get you open.' He really got me wide open, made my job easy. I just had to catch it and knock it down."

Earlier this season, the Knicks lost games to the Bulls and the Celtics because of poor late-game execution. This was before Lin became the point guard.

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After hearing "MVP" chants at the Garden and Verizon Center in Washington, Lin was treated to some chants of "overrated!" from the Target Center crowd. Said Lin, "Thank you to them for doing that."

A bunch of firstsLin continues to break new ground and likely will be named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after leading the Knicks to four wins.

His 109 points in his first four starts are the most by any player since the NBA-ABA merger before the 1976-77 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

He also became the first player in NBA history with at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first four starts.

Plenty to talk about

Lin said he speaks to former Rockets center Yao Ming after every game and that they talked after his 38-point game against the Lakers Friday night. But Lin, through a Knicks spokesman, said he would like to keep what he and Yao said private.

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Yao is the best Asian player in NBA history and Lin is the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. They became friendly in the summer of 2010 when Lin played in Yao's charity game in Taiwan. "He's taken me out to eat every time we're in the same city," Lin said. "He's obviously a role model and a big brother to me and we keep in touch all the time."

He's sticking to it

Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio had 12 points and eight assists against the Knicks. Mike D'Antoni was asked what he thought of Rubio when he saw him in international competition.

"Wow," D'Antoni said. "He's good. He's real good."

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What does D'Antoni think about Rubio now that he's in the NBA?

"Wow," D'Antoni said. "He's good. He's real good."

Stars will be back soon

Amar'e Stoudemire will return to practice Monday and will play Tuesday in Toronto. Carmelo Anthony (strained groin) will be re-evaluated Sunday and could play this week. Baron Davis has been back doing individual work on the court, but he's still not cleared to return to practice and go through contact.

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