In the course of a week, -Taiwanese-American Jeremy Lin has gone from basketball obscurity to being the NBA’s newest playmaking sensation.
The New York Knicks guard has earned more than 60,000 Twitter followers in just five days. Now, he also has his first NBA dunk.
Lin had 23 points and a -career-high 10 assists in New York’s 107-93 win over the Wizards in Washington on Wednesday.
Late in the third quarter, with the Knicks up by four, Lin drove past three Wizards players and suddenly was alone in front of the hoop. He slammed it through with his right hand.
“Just one of those in-a-moment things,” Lin said. “They messed up on their coverage, so I was able to get free.”
In his previous two games, Lin had 25 points against New Jersey and 28 more against Utah in his first start — both wins. Now, the Harvard graduate had to go on the road, but instead of facing a hostile crowd, Lin found an adoring one.
The fans cheered louder for Lin than for any other player in introductions, waving Taiwanese flags and signs — including one that read: “Linning and Grinning.”
By the time the game ended, the crowd was chanting for him as he walked off the floor.
“Like I said after the last game, I wouldn’t have imagined this,” said Lin, who was undrafted in 2010 and played his rookie season in Golden State.
“Thanks to them for coming out and they came out strong for the Knicks tonight,” he added. “We had a lot of energy that came from them.”
When the Knicks last played on Jan. 6, Lin did not play at all. With their two leading scorers missing — Carmelo Anthony gone for a week or two with a strained right groin and Amare Stoudemire mourning the loss of his brother — New York desperately needed Lin’s scoring this time around.
He did not single-handedly make up for the 40 points that Anthony and Stoudemire provide, but sure energized the decidedly pro-New York crowd.
“He just does everything easy and the rest of the guys around him are playing the way we want to play,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman knew about Lin from a close relative. His son played against Lin in college. Ryan Wittman, who played for Cornell, sent his father a sarcastic message during the game.
“He told me that they did a much better job guarding him than we did tonight,” Wittman said. “I already had that text message before the game was over. Makes Dad feel good.”
The Knicks shot just 25 percent in the first quarter and trailed 23-17. Lin missed all three shots he attempted, and moments after the third, he was called for his second foul and sustained a gash and left the game with 4:06 to play.
Lin returned about two minutes into the second quarter and scored eight points — on three layups and a pretty 5.2m bank shot just before halftime.
Lin scored on a bank shot to start the third quarter, and after Washington scored the next 10 points for a 56-54 lead, he hit four free throws, another layup and a right-handed dunk with 2:59 left to give the Knicks a 72-66 lead. He made another layup to end the quarter with 12 points — and a 77-68 New York advantage. The Wizards narrowed the deficit to 79-72, but Lin helped give New York a 103-85 lead with 3:22 to play.
SPURS 100, 76ERS 90
In Philadelphia, San Antonio’s Tony Parker scored 37 points to lead the Spurs to a 100-90 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Wednesday’s clash of two NBA divisional leaders.