The Linsanity continued as New York defeated Atlanta on Wednesday night to pull their season record back to .500, and the Knicks began to resemble serious playoff contenders.
Jeremy Lin led the team again as the Knicks' starting point guard, scoring 17 points and dishing out nine assists. Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points in his second game back from an injury and Steve Novak sank three five pointers against the Atlanta Hawks, who were missing their lead scorer Joe Johnson because of tendinitis in his left knee.
The Knicks went into the game at Madison Square Garden with some concern over how their newly acquired players, JR Smith (6 assists) and Baron Davis (12 points), would adapt to the team's dynamics, but New York played like a well-oiled machine, emerging with an even 17-17 record.
Anthony missed the past seven games with a strained right groin. In a particularly spectacular moment of play, Lin passed him the ball during a fast break for a lethal dunk that seemed to signify that the Knicks' two biggest stars were on the same page.
[Anthony is] making the right plays, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told The New York Times. He knows the game. I can see him going to certain people when he should've and understanding who needs the ball this time, who needs it that time.
New York pulled ahead early with a 25-point lead at halftime (60-35), shooting 52 percent in the first quarter and scoring 30 points each period.
The Knicks seemed to lose focus briefly in the third quarter, allowing the Hawks to close the gap to 78-56 heading into the final quarter.
Lin sat out the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter before D'Antoni put him back in. He played just 33 minutes on Wednesday night after playing at least 36 minutes in each of his previous 10 games.
On Thursday the Knicks will fly to Miami to take on their toughest challenge since the Lin show began, as they face off against the Heat. Miami is tied for the NBA's best record (26-7) and on a seven game winning streak, led by their star player LeBron James.
James has stated that he expects to guard Lin at some point during the game, and Lin noted that his teammate Anthony has given him a few pointers on playing against James, USA Today reported.
Obviously Lebron is a great player and a great defender. I just have to be aggressive and not change anything on my end, Lin told USA Today.
Check out Lin's highlights from Wednesday's game below: