The hashtagging has been fun. The nicknames have been cute. But it's time to put a rest to Linsanity.
It's time to acknowledge that Jeremy Lin is not a novelty act, but a real, and talented, basketball player. And a point guard who found his game in a system perfectly tailored for it, at just the right time. None of this happens without a host of contributing factors: desperation of a coach and a team, injuries to star players and opportunity.
Therein is the amazing story. As Mike D'Antoni said, to find exactly what a team needs to turn around a season in the 15th Man is "a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
But the fact that Jeremy Lin is a terrific basketball player is not an amazing story. "The surprising factor is gone,"Landry Fields said after Lin's 38-point, 7-assist performance in the thrilling win over the Lakers on Friday night.
"Now it's just incredible," Fields continued. "I really can't describe it. I hope he does this for the rest of his career."
This is real. This is not Tim Tebow taking the field for the Denver Broncos and playing an entirely different style. This is Lin running D'Antoni's system the way it is supposed to be run. The way Steve Nash ran it when the Suns were the most entertaining show in the NBA.
That more than anything is the real effect of Lin's sudden emergence as a star-quality point guard for the Knicks. His play has brought joy to The Garden, to Knicks fans hungry for something to believe in after so many years of losing and a frustrating start to a highly-anticipated season.
Lin has jolted the locker room, which was already a pretty tight-knit group, with a rush of energy and enthusiasm.
"It's contagious," Fields said. "I think everybody is buying in."
UNSUNG HERO AMID LINSANITY
Jared Jeffries still draws groans when he squares up to shoot a jumper, but while it still will take some time for the Garden faithful to appreciate his game, Jeffries' teammates -- and coach -- already do.
In Amar'e Stoudemire's absence, Jeffries has put forth workmanlike efforts and has been terrific on defense and on the boards. And if you watch closely you can see how Stoudemire will work within the system as a pick-and-roll partner with Lin and also as a perimeter outlet when Lin runs the pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler.
But you can't overlook what Jeffries has done in areas that aren't quantified on the stat sheet. His quick hands get to loose balls, his ability to run the floor helps keep the pace quick and his gritty defense has been a factor in the four straight wins.
CONTROVERSIAL CALL EXPLAINED (SORT OF)
In the third quarter the Knicks had two points taken off the board when it was revealed that they were awarded free throws -- two by Chandler -- after one of the official scorer's mistakenly charged a foul to Metta World Peace on a whistle that did not result in a team foul. So it put the Lakers in the foul bonus sooner than they should.
The mistake wasn't discovered until a few plays later during a timeout. The two free throws were taken away from the Knicks, thus cutting their lead from eight points to six.
The issue isn't that the Knicks lost the points as much as it was that they lost possession. It became an advantage for the Lakers, despite the foul.
We made a call to the league to get this explained. Here is Case No. 59 in the NBA Rule Book:
59. What is the ruling if the officials are notified of the following between periods: Team A attempted an unmerited free throw(s) which was successful; Team A did not attempt merited free throw(s) from a common foul.
(1) The point(s) are subtracted if more than 24 seconds have elapsed. (2) The officials shall check the play-by-play and if Team A scored a successful field goal or was awarded free throw attempts as the result of a personal foul on the next possession, the error will be ignored if more than 24 seconds have elapsed. If neither occurred, the offended player will attempt his free throw(s) and play will resume where it was interrupted.
If 24 or less seconds have elapsed, the game clock shall be reset to the time of the foul and the offended player will attempt his free throw(s) and play shall resume as after any free throw attempts, whether made or missed. All play shall be nullified except acts of unsportsmanlike conduct and all flagrant fouls and points scored there-from.
NOTE: Errors which occur in the first or third periods must be discovered and corrected before the start of the next period. Errors which occur in the second period must be discovered and the official scorer notified prior to the officials leaving the floor at the end of the period. The error must be rectified prior to the start of the third period.
The mistake was that free throws were awarded because the Lakers were believed to be in the bonus. The issue is that if the free throws were taken away because of an error, the Knicks should have been given possession. The clock should have reset to the time of the error, but instead they simply wiped the points off the board and continued play. The Lakers had the ball out of the timeout.
In the end, the situation did not cost the Knicks the game, but it is still something you can expect the NBA to review.
Baron Davis -- remember him? -- resumed workouts this week. The team was off from practice on Thursday but he was at MSG Training Center for a personal workout (shooting, running). He also took the court on his own Friday after the team's morning shoot-around. It's as if he is starting all over again, so he has not yet been cleared for contact and there is no timetable set on when he may resume practicing with the team.
Carmelo Anthony (groin strain) will be re-evaluated on Sunday, but remains on the one- to two-week recovery period. Monday will be a week since he suffered the injury early in the win over the Utah Jazz.
As for the concerns in New York that Melo won't be able to play with Lin dominating the ball as the point guard, Kobe Bryant has a message for you:
"I think Melo having the ball in his hands in this town is overrated," Bryant told reporters after the game. "I mean, I've played with him. The ball is in his hands and then it's gone... He's not going to be a facilitator, so people need to stop expecting that from him. That can be Jeremy Lin's job. Melo can put the ball in the basket and let him do what he does best."