The Nets were facing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. This was Feb. 4, 2012, so they were still the New Jersey Nets. The Knicks sent in a 23-year-old point guard off the bench and the next thing they knew, a phenomenon was born — Linsanity.
Jeremy Lin scored 25 points, powering the Knicks to a 99-92 victory. He moved into the starting lineup the next game and ultimately signed with Houston before the next season.
Now Lin is in his first season on the other side with these Nets of Brooklyn. They will face the Knicks at the Garden Thursday night, looking for a split of the four-game season series. But Lin isn’t feeling too nostalgic about the old days and his old team at this point.
“We’ve played each other three times this season and two times in the preseason and we’re like five years removed,” Lin said after practice Wednesday at the HSS Training Center. “Every once in a while, people will be like, ‘Man, it’s crazy; you’re back in New York.’ Teammates will say, ‘That was a fun time, right?’
“But beyond that, I think we’re much past [that]. It is just another game . . . That’s literally what it is to all of us.”
The season is winding down for this 12-54 team. But Lin’s play is starting to look up after two hamstring injuries and one aggravation. He returned again after the All-Star break and has played 10 games. The latest was the 122-104 loss to Oklahoma City at Barclays Center Tuesday when he tossed in a season-high 24 points.
“I’m happy I’m healthy,” Lin said. “I definitely appreciate it a lot more now.
“My whole game I feel like is getting a little bit sharper. I thought [Tuesday] was the best game I had in terms of attacking the basket.”
He’s averaging 14.3 points and 4.9 assists in 22 games.
“He makes us a vastly better team when he’s on the court,” Brook Lopez said.
The team shot 34 percent on three-pointers before the All-Star break. It’s shooting 38.1 percent since then.
The Nets went 19-for-38, including 6-for-9 by the 7-foot Lopez, when they beat the Knicks, 120-112, Sunday at Barclays Center.
“I think Jeremy helps a lot [on threes], just his penetration,” coach Kenny Atkinson said.
Lin has also hit 45.2 percent of his threes since returning.
“It’s very important, not just for us but the whole league,” Lin said. “I think every team right now is putting an emphasis on that.”
Goodwin signs. The Nets inked 6-5 D-League combo guard Archie Goodwin to a 10-day contract. He’s just 22, but the 2013 first-rounder has played 153 games with Phoenix and New Orleans.