WHAT IT MEANS: Although Jeremy Lin came back to earth Saturday night, shooting 8-for-24, he continued his magical run by hitting the go-ahead free throw with four seconds remaining in the Knicks' eventual 100-98 victory.
Lin, who scored 20 points and dished out eight assists, wasn't alone. Iman Shumpert (20 points off the bench) and Landry Fields (19 points) pitched in as the Knicks won their fifth straight -- their longest winning streak of the season. And they've done it without Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
TURNING POINT: Fields missed a jumper with less than a minute to play, and Ricky Rubio made a layup with 40 seconds remaining to put Minnesota up three. But the Knicks weren't done. Steve Novak hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 98. From there, Lin made the big foul shot, and Bill Walker added one with a second to play.
THE GOOD (not including Lin): (1) Shumpert's offense. He's not only recapturing that scoring mentality he had in the early part of the season, but he's looking better now. He's starting to become the sixth man the Knicks were envisioning he'd be.
(2) Fields' half-court attacking. He's starting to look like a bona fide starting 2 guard, scoring off the dribble-drive and capitalizing on and-1 opportunities.
(3) Jared Jeffries' shooting. Jeffries has earned praise this week for his defense and finishing skills around the basket, but his ability to knock down the open shot has gone underrated. He had two tonight, en route to eight points.
THE BAD: (1) The Knicks' interior defense. The Knicks allowed Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love and center Nikola Pekovic to combine for 29 points and 18 rebounds in the first half, as they helped the team shoot 57.1 percent.
(2) Lin's turnovers. He has to take a bit better care of the ball when he gets into the paint (he finished with six turnovers, and he's now averaging 5.5 turnovers per game after four starts). Give credit to Rubio (three steals) for playing right up on him and reading several of his passes.
(3) No Toney Douglas for the third straight game. He's now officially buried like Lin was just a week ago, if you can believe it.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks' next road opponents Tuesday night, the 9-19 Raptors, are in desperate need for their leading scorer, Andrea Bargnani (23.5 points per game), to return. Problem is for them, that might not happen for a while. So that means the Knicks, who will have Stoudemire back in the lineup and maybe Anthony, should put away the Raptors early. Since Bargnani missed his first game Jan. 13, the Raptors have gone 5-12, and they're averaging only 88.2 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting and 33.4 percent from 3.
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