The legend of the Shao-Lin Dynasty -- and the Jeremy Lin puns -- have only gained momentum as the Knicks (12-15) take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at the Target Center.
The upstart-Timberwolves are also a compelling story, having found excitement behind flashy rookie point guard Ricky Rubio and the walking double-double that is Kevin Love.
The Knicks and Lin have become the biggest story in the league as they seek their fifth straight win. Here are some things to keep an eye on:
SECURING THE LINeage: Jeremy Lin has taken over the league in way that no player has ever before and the magnitude of his success grows each time he takes the floor. He got his first taste of stardom when he matched wits with Deron Williams. He bested John Wall. Lin outdueled Kobe Bryant at the Garden, stunning everyone, including coach Mike D'Antoni.
The Knicks are on a four-game winning steak, their longest of the season, three of which came without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
Now Lin will match up with Rubio, who is a young flashy guard said to be the Spanish-version of “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Lin exploded for 38 points in the Knicks' 92-85 win over the Lakers Friday night, the most points by a Knick this season. The undrafted, unnoticed point guard is averaging 28.5 points and eight assists in an unbelievable week that saw him rise from the end of the bench to the top of the Big Apple. Rubio, with his highlight passes and veteran savvy, has already vaulted himself into the conversation for Rookie of the Year.
But Rubio has struggled recently, shooting 5-for-23 over his last three games while contributing to Minnesota's turnover woes. The Timberwolves had 28 turnovers against Dallas in their second consecutive loss.
DON’T MAKE IT A LOVE FEST: Kevin Love recorded his eighth 30/10-game this season, with 32 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves (13-14) in a loss to Dallas Friday in his return from a two-game suspension for stomping on Houston Rockets forward Luis Scola.
Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries and a trapping Knicks defense held the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum to three points Friday night. Chandler and Jeffries outplayed Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in New York’s win over Utah.
GETTING OVER THE SHUMP: Iman Shumpert is one of numerous Knicks who have benefited from Lin’s play. Against Los Angeles, Shumpert showed his ability to attack the paint, now that he has turned over the facilitating role to Lin. Shumpert scored 9 of his 12 points Friday in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves play small, with Rubio and Luke Ridnour in the backcourt, which can create a mismatch if Shumpert decides to muscle his way to the basket.
The Knicks can’t expect Lin to be scalding hot every night. They will also need their shooters to regain their touch. Steve Novak had his worst shooting night since gaining significant playing time. He shot 3 of 9 from the field with 9 points Friday. Bill Walker, who started at small forward Friday, shot 3-for-11 and made 1 of 4 from 3-point range. Landry Fields shot 1-for-7, although he did spent most of his night chasing Kobe Bryant, who scored 34.