The showdown between two probably All-Star PG in the next several years was on display when the NY Knicks played the Minnesota Timberwolves last Saturday. I’ll leave the report to the professionals: ESPN.
I would start my comment with this photo, it is only fitting because Ricky Rubio really pushed Lin to the brink of failure by containing Lin’s PnR…
And here are y 3 comments from the game:
1) Jeremy was exhausted. Obviously. But this was the root of all evils. He was showing signs of fatigue in the 2nd half of the Lakers game already, not to mention this one. The missed lay-ups, the TOs, even the missed FTs were all stemmed from the tiring body. With the way Lin is loading and playing, he’d be lucky NOT to hit the rookie wall before the All-Star break. More importantly, he’d be more prone to injury when his body is too fatigued to keep up with his mind.
2) Learn to play with fatigue. Which rotation player doesn’t have to deal with it? We all know Jeremy always gives his full-efforts with a strong will. But this could be detrimental in the long-run because when his mentality overpowers the physical body, he’d be at the brink of an injury. Furthermore, his game would also suffer, the shots, the passes, decision making, and of course on defense. If I were D’Antoni, I would had told Lin to bring it down a notch in the second half, when he was obviously dragging it, and just focus on getting his teammates involved and setting them up. This way it would had helped players like Novak, Fields and Chandler to be more involved on the offensive end. Lin could had also slowed down the tempo a bit, being more careful with the passes, since his teammates could had been tired as well, and the reaction time would be slower. Playing at a slower speed could help trimming down those bad passes and save some energy for everyone.
3) It’s OK not to shoulder all responsibility. This is something I think Jeremy acknowledges personally but not doing it physically, because you could see how he’s been carrying the team on his shoulder “all his life.” Being down in the second half, Jeremy really wanted to spark a comeback and was really driving hard into the lane just to launch fruitlessly on those dying legs. There was one play where he drove into 4 other wolves (or muskies!) in the paint just to gased out at the lay-up. The effort was admirable, but had he passed the ball out to any of the teammates, they would had been as open as the night’s ever given. I am not talking about a few plays, I’m talking about the mentality of “allowing others to carry the team,” at least at times. The real leader only need to take the stage when there’s no one else to do it, at the most critical moments.
The 80s-90s Bulls did not start winning championships until MJ learned to hand the scoring load to Pip et al. I can still remember in their first championship finals against Magic and the Lakers, MJ had 45 but then the 2nd highest scoring Bull was Pip at 17, and the Bulls lost in Game 1. In game 2 MJ pretty much changed his attitude from the start, passing the ball out whenever he touched it. Everyone else (Pip, Horace, Paxson, etc) began to chip in from the beginning, and played really well when MJ sat on the bench. Later in the game whenever the Lakers were making a comeback, MJ would just answer it with another bucket, it was easy because he had saved all the energy from the first half.
Even without Amare and Melo, the current Knicks have enough talent to share the offense. Novak is obviously the dead-eye shooter (He is Bamboo version of Steve Kerr), Chandler runs the PnR beautifully, and Shump is a very athletic slasher. As long as Lin could draw away the focus of D from those players, they could be very effective.
I know Jeremy is one fast learner and rarely makes the same mistake twice. I am sure he will learn from this game and show up next time just that much better. Let’s just pray for him to stay healthy, and the rest will fall into places naturally. That’s how Jeremy Lin basketball is about.