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D'An 'leaning' toward starting Lin vs. Utah

In just three days, Jeremy Lin has gone from benchwarmer to potential NBA starter.

Lin will likely get his first NBA start on Monday night against the Utah Jazz, according to coach Mike D'Antoni.

D'Antoni -- along with most Knicks fans -- was thoroughly impressed with what he saw from Lin on Saturday against the New Jersey Nets.

The second-year player had a breakout performance, scoring 25 points and handing out seven assists in the Knicks' win.

D'Antoni said at the Knicks shootaround on Monday that he would wait until late Monday afternoon before deciding on his starting point guard.

"It's a game-time decision but he's looking to start probably," the coach said of Lin, a former Harvard standout and the second Asian-American to play in the NBA.

If Lin starts, Iman Shumpert will likely be the first guard off the bench and Toney Douglas would be a part of the second unit. That also means Mike Bibby is all but out of the rotation.

D'Antoni said he likes that Lin has the feel of a "true point guard" -- something the Knicks have lacked for most of the season.

Prior to Lin's big night, the Knicks had ranked 24th in offensive efficiency, 26th in turnover percentage and 25th in assist percentage.

New York (9-15) had viewed veteran Baron Davis as the cure to its point guard problems. But Davis suffered a setback in his rehabilitation. It is unclear when he will return to the practice floor. When he does, Davis will be at least 7-10 days away from suiting up for the Knicks.

So they turn to Lin, who was signed in late December after being cut in the preseason by Golden State and Houston.

"He runs the pick and roll which a lot of our offense is predicated on," D'Antoni said. "He did a good job of finding open guys (on Saturday and) he took the right shots. Above all, I thought his defense is really good and that's why I don't hesitate throwing him in with the starters."

Lin had just one turnover in 36 minutes against New Jersey.

"You could just see there was a calmness about (Lin) that the other players were able to read," D'Antoni said.

Of course, there is some concern that Lin caught New Jersey, and Deron Williams in particular, off guard. NBA teams now have a chance to scout for him and may be able to slow him down.

"You never know," D'Antoni said. "I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I was really happy with his performance and hopefully he can repeat it tonight."

If he starts against Utah, it will be Lin's first in 39 NBA games.

"Is it too early? Maybe. I don't know that. But we'll all find out together," D'Antoni said.

Regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench, Lin said he wouldn't change his approach. He just wants to help dig the Knicks out of their 9-15 hole.

"It’s the same thing for me. Just get on the floor and play my game and try to help the team win," Lin said. "I’m not really worried about starting, not starting, how many minutes I play. I just try to control it when I play."

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