The Knicks started the third quarter sloppy, but finished strong, ending the period on a 7-0 run which cut the deficit to 75-72 against the Mavericks.
Jeremy Lin continued to lead the Knicks, scoring 10 points in the quarter on just seven shots, but he also turned the ball over three times and missed a pair of free throws. Still, the Knicks will continue to live with Lin's turnover because of everything else he brings. Check out this play to steal back the momentum at the end of the quarter:
Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki proved once again to be a one-man comeback. The Mavericks forward exploded for 13 points in the third quarter, making all four of his shot attempts. He even converted a four-point play. Check the video:
At this point it's old hat for Dirk. On Friday, Nowitzki tied the Sixers 24-24 in the second half alone (!!!) leading the Mavericks to a comeback road win in Philadelphia.
The Knicks lead the Mavericks by a score of 48-45 at halftime on Sunday. Jeremy Lin leads New York with 12 points and six assists and J.R. Smith has come out gunning in his Knicks debut. At the other end of the floor, New York has had no answer for Dirk Nowitzki, who has 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
But this Mavs-Knicks matchup is less a basketball game than a three-hour opportunity for America to talk about Jeremy Lin. It's really the perfect end to a week that has been all about #Linsanity. Fortunately, the biggest story in sports has continued to do what's he's continued to do: play good, fun basketball.
Here are Lin's first half highlights:
• Jeremy Lin's first seven starts vs. other notable point guards
• Jeremy Lin hitting Jeremy Lin floater over NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki
• Jeremy Lin is a jump ball specialist because of course why not
• Jeremy Lin can now shoot from wherever he wants (also know as "The Melo Rule")
Coming off the bench in the first quarter against the Mavericks, Smith jacked up five three-pointers in less than six minutes, draining three:
It was a bit surprising to see, but should it have been? Smith has long been one of the most fearless gunners in the league, and even though he's playing his first NBA game of the year, it's not like he gathered any rust playing overseas. Combined with the emergence of Jeremy Lin, the sudden availability of Baron Davis and the imminent return of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks suddenly have a lot of tools at their disposal as they attempt to climb from their current No. 8 spot in the East.
Smith's outburst helped the Knicks build a 32-20 lead over the Mavericks. With a couple of minutes left in the first half, that lead has dwindled to 46-40.
Davis has been out all year recovering from a back injury and being generally out of shape, but he's been inching toward a return since the lockout ended. He participated in 3-on-3 drills in Saturday practice, according to the Associated Press. After healing from a herniated disc and an infected elbow, he is medically cleared to help spell Jeremy Lin and give the Knicks an option without having a serious dropoff on the floor.
J.R. Smith was just signed this week after spending the beginning of the season in China. Because he was playing professional basketball, he should be in game shape, and the Knicks have cleared him to play, but ESPN's Heather Cox reports that he won't be playing in this one.
Finally, Carmelo Anthony is still recovering from the pulled groin he suffered against the Utah Jazz two weeks ago. He's been coming closer to returning to game action and quelling the doubts about whether he can play with Lin, but it doesn't look like that will happen Sunday.
The Dallas Mavericks, who had Jeremy Lin in the 2010 Summer League, will visit the New York Knicks on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ABC). While Lin gets the spotlight, Tyson Chandler will be hoping to remind Dallas what they're missing.