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Mavs get a second shot at defending Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks celebrates

Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks celebrates a basket in the second half against the Dallas Mavericks with teammate J.R.Smith on Feb. 19, 2012. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

DALLAS -- Jeremy Lin has had mixed success against some of the NBA's best defensive teams, and he will face another Tuesday night that should have some extra incentive.

Lin had 28 points and 14 assists Feb. 19 as the Knicks beat Dallas. The Mavericks, who began Monday fourth in points allowed, probably haven't forgotten that.

But Lin knows teams have targeted him since he became the NBA's newest star. The Heat and Celtics proved that in two of the Knicks' last three games. Lin shot 7-for-27 and totaled 22 points, eight assists and 14 turnovers in losses to Miami and Boston. He was torched Sunday by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished with 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds.

"Definitely adjustments need to be made on my part," Lin said. "But I'd rather be going through these tough times right now than in the playoffs. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and be ready, and hopefully we can make a push."

It doesn't get easier for Lin and the Knicks. They face the defending champs Tuesday night, San Antonio on Wednesday night and end the trip in Milwaukee. Lin's main counterparts in those games will be Jason Kidd, Tony Parker and Brandon Jennings.

"He's a marked man right now, no doubt about it," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That's good; he'll learn quickly this way. He's getting a lot of in-game experience of how the playoffs are going to be, how it's going to be the rest of his career. The second halves, he's better, he's getting more used to it. And I'm really happy with him."

D'Antoni noted that after Lin struggled for most of Sunday's game, he scored six straight points late in regulation to bring the Knicks within one.

"There'll be some times he'll have great games, some not too good," D'Antoni said. "One thing I do know about him, he's a tough-minded kid. He will find a way to win."

D'Antoni said he will stick with Lin late in games. He didn't rule out playing Baron Davis but doesn't want to mess with anything, especially Lin's confidence. D'Antoni said the same thing about his shooting guards. Landry Fields will continue to start and rookie Iman Shumpert could be the closer if he's playing well or his defense is needed.

Foul or fair?

D'Antoni explained why he doesn't foul in the closing seconds when his team is up three. One reason is he doesn't want to risk fouling a player in the act of shooting; that was the concern when Paul Pierce hit the tying three with 4.9 seconds left in regulation Sunday. Then D'Antoni was asked if assistant coach Mike Woodson, who was brought in to help the defense, shares the same philosophy.

"I don't think that really matters," D'Antoni said. "To be honest with you, because guess who gets fired? OK, as long as you know that. I don't fire him. He is in agreement, having said that, I think. I didn't ask him."

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