Jeremy Lin had been topping himself all week. After scoring 38 points in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, the New York Knicks' sensational point guard was ripe for a letdown on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
True, Lin did not match his performance against the Lakers. Instead, all the Palo Alto High grad did was win.
Lin scored 20 points, dished out eight assists, grabbed six rebounds and had three steals as the Knicks won for the fifth straight time, 100-98, over the Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Lin made a free throw with 4.8 seconds left to give New York the lead for good. The Knicks improved to 13-15 after trailing most of the game.
Lin had his worst shooting night, 8-of-24, since stepping into the lineup last Saturday in a reserve role. Since then, he has started four games and now is averaging 26.8 points and eight rebounds during the Knicks' five-game win streak. He has scored 134 points and dished out 40 assists during the past five games.
He is the first player in NBA history to average over 20 points and seven assists in his first four starts.
Lin got off to a fast start with nine points in the first quarter on 4-of-7 shooting. He also had three assists. He added six more points in the second quarter, all coming in the final two minutes. to finish the half with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Lin slowed down in the third quarter, scoring only two points as Minnesota held an 87-82 lead. The Knicks trailed by seven with 6:41 to play and it looked as if a week of Tebow-like hype was finally catching up to Lin. But the Wolves only scored one field goal the rest of the way, and the Knicks hung in there.
Playing yet again without the injured Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who was mourning the death of his brother, former Stanford standout Landry Fields scored 19 on 8-for-10 shooting and Iman Shumpert added 20 points.
Fields hit a short jumper to make the score 94-93 with 2:10 to go and Shumpert added another for a 95-94 lead with 1:22 to go to give New York its first lead since early in the second quarter. After Minnesota went ahead, Steve Novak's 3-pointer tied it at 98 on the next possession and Lin and Bill Walker each hit free throws to seal it for the Knicks, who scored 29 points on 23 Minnesota turnovers.
Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio, Lin's opposite, finished with 12 points, eight assists, two rebounds and three steals.
In his fourth start, Lin is already drawing the casual fan even in road games. He was cheered heartily in pregame introductions and gave the curious crowd exactly what it was looking for. His quickness gave Rubio fits on defense and he scored in every manner imaginable.