The New York Knicks got a much-needed boost on Saturday when Jeremy Lin's breakout performance off the bench guided them to a comeback win over the New Jersey Nets. On Monday, the stage seemed set for New York to squander that momentum in typical fashion. For one, Lin was hastily promoted to the starting lineup and seemed destined to regress with more pressure and against a better defensive team in the Utah Jazz. When Amar'e Stoudemire had to fly home to mourn the death of his brother and Carmelo Anthony strained his groin in the first quarter, Lin and the Knicks found themselves severely short-handed against a very big Utah team.
Luckily for the Knicks, it was also a sluggish and uncharacteristically sloppy Utah team. The typically careful Jazz committed twenty turnovers and didn't get nearly enough production from their big men. New York's defense, anchored by the ball-poking, charge-drawing Jared Jeffries (Tyson Chandler played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble), allowed Al Jefferson to score 22 points, but held Paul Millsap to just nine and kept the Utah bench mostly in check. Save for the occasional Gordon Hayward highlight, a little run of second half three-pointers from Raja Bell, and the occasional entry pass, Utah simply couldn't string together positive offensive possessions, and the Knicks made them pay on the other end of the floor.
Lin picked up right where he'd left off in the New Jersey game, running a clinical pick-and-roll with Chandler and Jeffries to either feed the big men inside (he had eight assists, but could have had a dozen if Jared Jeffries didn't buff his fingers before every game) or blow by Devin Harris for crafty finishes around the rim (a career-high 28 points). When the Jazz clogged the middle, Lin turned to none other than Steve Novak, who rose from the bench to go wild from downtown. Novak scored 19 points, including five threes, in just 17 minutes, and did so primarily off catches from Lin penetration.
After halftime, the Jazz wisely focused their defense on Lin and frazzled him into eight(!) second half turnovers. The Knicks managed to tread water throughout the third and fourth quarters, but the Jazz appeared to be threatening in earnest once the closing minutes came around. Then, off a Tyson Chandler tip-out of an Iman Shumpert airball, with just tenths of a second left on the shot clock, Lin did this:
And, yeah, that about did it. New York's win moved them to 10-15 (2-0 in the Jeremy Lin era), while the loss dropped Utah to 13-10 (and just 2-6 on the road).