Jeremy Lin flirted with a triple-double, but the New York Knicks struggled to find the right chemistry with the return of Carmelo Anthony, losing 100-92 to the New Jersey Nets on Monday.
“I need to come out with more energy and the team needs to come out with more energy. That is why we lost,” Lin said. “We are not in panic mode. We are going to have to work through some struggles, but as long as we are all committed and buy in, we will be fine.”
It marked just the second loss since Lin’s amazing run began on Feb. 4 against the Nets when he blitzed New Jersey’s defense for 25 points.
The Knicks have eight wins and two losses since the NBA legend that is Lin was born with that 99-92 win over the Nets. Lin finished with a team-high 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as all five Knicks starters reached double figures in scoring in Monday’s loss.
“Jeremy still got 21 and nine, and he still had a great game, a good game,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Our energy wasn’t right the whole night. We got some sorting out to do.”
Lin’s incredible season began when the former benchwarmer was called up with two starters missing and answered with the most points of any NBA player in his first five starts since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. The fairytale rise of Lin, the first -American-born NBA player of Taiwanese heritage, is all the more remarkable considering he was cut by two clubs before joining the Knicks.
However, the Knicks had no answer on Monday to Nets point guard Deron Williams, who finished with a season-high 38 points.
Williams also scored a career-high eight three-pointers for the Nets, who snapped a five-game losing streak to the Knicks.
Kris Humphries had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds for New Jersey.
The Knicks welcomed superstar Anthony back into the lineup from injury on Monday, but he struggled to find a role in their revamped offense.
Anthony shot just four-of-11 from the field and had 11 points, well below his season average of 22.3.
Anthony had missed the team’s last seven games with a groin strain and point guard Baron Davis also made his season debut against the Nets.
However, D’Antoni refused to single out a player for blame, instead insisting the whole team was at fault for the loss.
“When a guy comes back, other guys stand around and watch what he is doing,” D’Antoni said. “It was the whole team’s fault.”
“Two or three guys were new in there and we weren’t rolling,” he said.
Amare Stoudemire (17), Tyson Chandler (14) and Landry Fields (10) also reached double figures for the Knicks.
D’Antoni said they hope to use the upcoming All-Star break to better identify the role of each player on the team.
“We got some things to sort out and figure out what identity we have to have. We need to retool a little bit and see what we can do,” D’Antoni said.
Lin has been running the Knicks’ offense since Anthony got hurt. Lin believes the two will eventually find their roles under D’Antoni’s system.
“We both make plays and we need to find a good balance,” said Lin, who makes US$17 million a season less than Anthony. “It is tough right now with no practice time, and then you throw in J.R. Smith and Baron Davis. There will be an adjustment time and things to talk about.”
Lin said it was frustrating to beat defending champions the Dallas Mavericks one night then lose to a last-place team the next.