Jeremy Lin’s exciting talent has lit up the NBA this season, but after he and the New York Knicks suffered a humbling loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday, the talk about him was of learning rather than leading.
Nine times in 11 games, the 23-year-old Lin put up more than 20 points as he transformed the Knicks’ season, but on Thursday he had as many turnovers as points — eight of both against a fast and aggressive Miami defense in a 102-88 loss.
“I think it took him a while to adjust and he didn’t look like he had the legs,” Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters.
“He played last night [Wednesday] and that happens. I think he will use it as a learning experience and the whole team will. We just played arguably the best team in the NBA right now and it set a bar that we have to get up to,” he added.
Lin has coped well with the stampede of media coverage surrounding his sudden rise to fame and D’Antoni believes he will be handle the criticism that will inevitably follow Thursday’s disappointment.
“I am not worried about Jeremy. He handles this pressure well. He has a learning curve he has to go through. There is no way in heck that you can just come from without training camp and be one of the best players,” D’Antoni said. “He did it for two weeks or whatever, but he is a good NBA player that will keep get learning and keep getting better and just write this one off, but he’ll see what he has to do and he will do it.”
Lin was certainly aware that he still had a lot to learn.
“I need to understand what I did wrong and how can I improve,” he said. “Obviously as a point guard and leader on the floor and having the ball in my hands, I have to make sure that I am learning and improving so that I can lead this team when I have the ball in my hands.”
“It was a learning experience, obviously a tough one and there are more games to come and this is just the beginning for me,” Lin added.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there had been no “master plan” to deal with Lin, but that he had been treated like other leading point guards.
“There was not a specific plan. What we wanted to do was treat him with the adequate respect that he deserves. He has played at an extremely high level, he is a clever player, particularly in that system, it fits very well,” Spoelstra said. “We played to our identity and what we wanted to do. Like I said, treat him like the other impactful point guards of this league.”