GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Point guard Jeremy Lin has taken New York by storm with a pair of games right out of a Hollywood script -- and he may have saved the Knicks' season in the process.

"The way he's been playing," center Tyson Chandler said, "has been unbelievable."

It's unbelievable mostly because there was no reason to expect it. Lin, an undrafted second-year player out of Harvard, was collecting dust on the Knicks' bench when Mike D'Antoni inserted him in the third quarter of Saturday's game against the Nets because of what the coach Tuesday called "a little bit of crisis."

The Knicks had lost two in a row, were 8-15 and were playing their third game in three nights. All Lin did was electrify the Madison Square Garden crowd with a career-best 25-point, seven-assist performance in a 99-92 victory.

In his first NBA start, on Monday against Utah, Lin set new career highs with 28 points and eight assists in 44:42 of play (he sat out only three minutes) in a 99-88 win.

Oh . . . and Lin led the Knicks on Monday without Amar'e Stoudemire, who is out indefinitely after the death of his brother Hazell in a car accident, and without Carmelo Anthony for most of the game. He played only 5:47 before exiting with a strained right groin; he will be out a week or two.

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Neither Knicks superstar will be available Wednesday when the Lin Era continues in Washington. And then the Lakers visit the Garden Friday before the Knicks go to Minneapolis Saturday. But it's all OK now, right? The Knicks have Jeremy Lin, who proved on Monday that he's not a one-time wonder.

"It can be like a two-time wonder," Lin, 23, joked Tuesday after practice -- one he was allowed to sit out because of Monday's monster minutes. "That's what I'm worried about -- just to come into this third game, I think the minute athletes get complacent, that's when we're in trouble. I'm just trying to stay ready."

The Knicks' fourth starting point guard this season and the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in NBA history, Lin has one big reason to not get complacent: His contract isn't guaranteed until Friday.

Not that the Knicks are looking to let him go; they picked him up on waivers on Dec. 27 after he was cut by Golden State and then Houston after the lockout ended. "We wanted him because we saw him work out when he was a rookie," D'Antoni said. "We liked what he had . . . I didn't know if he could play or not. I had no idea."

And now? "He has a pace to his game," D'Antoni said. "First of all, he's got real good speed. He gets in the lane. He has a sense of setting the guy up, a sense of where the openings are. It's hard to teach. Some guys have it."

Lin, who played in 29 games with Golden State in his rookie season, was sent to the Knicks' D-League team in Erie, Pa., last month. He had a triple-double in his first game: 28 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds -- but that was in Portland, Maine, not the World's Most Famous Arena.

Now Lin has become an instant sensation in Gotham. He knows it's going to be tough to keep the story going. But since he went to Harvard, he's got to be a pretty smart guy, right?

"That's a stereotype," Lin said. " David Lee always calls me the dumbest smart guy he knows. I don't know."