Before we start writing about last night's Knicks' 107–93 win over the Wizards, we're going to pause and watch this GIF over and over and over again. In case you're not sure what's happening there, that's Landry Fields (Stanford) and Jeremy Lin (Harvard), the two biggest reasons the Knicks' season has come screaming back from the brink in the last week, doing their new "nerd" handshake. The movements are: (1) Flip through textbook; (2) Take off glasses; (3) Place glasses in pocket protector. Watch it again. Man oh man are the Knicks fun right now.
For the first quarter last night, you had to wonder if the Jeremy Lin magic was wearing off. The Wizards were collapsing on him and Tyson Chandler, leaving Lin to only pass the ball out to Jared Jeffries on the perimeter: Not an effective strategy, to say the least. Lin got popped in the face, picked up two fouls, and watched the Knicks fall behind by seven against one of the worst teams in the NBA. And then he took over.
The thing that's most fun about Lin so far — other than this, that is
— is how much more fun he is obviously making the game for his teammates. They clearly adore him, not just because he's mesmerizing to watch but because he is able to find them in just the right places ... you know, like a point guard is supposed to do. Landry Fields had already been picking up his game in the last month, but since Lin's explosion, he has been reborn, the slashing, hopping, whip-smart ball of energy he was until Carmelo showed up last year. And he's not the only one. Tyson Chandler is a bigger offensive force with Lin than he's been his whole career, Steve Novak has turned himself into Reggie Miller upon Lin's ascendance, and last night, even Iman Shumpert — the man Lin replaced at the point — found ways to work with Lin and expand his own game. We all knew the Knicks' problem this year was the lack of a point guard, but it's still pretty astounding to see how dramatically matters have changed since Lin took over. Lin said last night that "this is an ideal system to me," largely because it gives him space in which to operate, and right now, he's the system's primary attribute. He's the reason this three-game win streak has happened, and the reason that the Knicks have gone from "overpaid group of cranky malcontents" to "giddy batch of hopping, laughing lunatics" in the span of about 72 hours.
Imagine what'll happen when Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire return. (Wait, they're not gonna screw this up, are they?)
Here's Lin's final numbers from last night, by the way: 23 points, 10 assists, just 2 turnovers, in 34 minutes. (Mike D'Antoni didn't ride him like Secretariat last night, mercifully.) Another terrific night. Another Knicks win. We don't know how long this is going to last — that's a scary-looking national television game on Friday against the Lakers, sans Carmelo and Amar'e — but we do not, ever, want it to stop. This is why we watch these games.