Jeremy Lin celebrates his team's 104-97 win over the defending champs (Getty Images)
NEW YORK — There's no doubting that it is a Jeremy Lin World right now, but beyond the meteoric rise that took him from sleeping on a teammate's couch to quite possibly saving the job of his coach, the impact of Lin isn't measured in his points per game or the merchandise that the New York Knicks can't keep on the shelves.
Instead, it is measured in how much better his teammates are playing since he's become a starter. It seems like months since B.L. (Before Lin) but as the story enters its third week, the effect is only growing.
It has become a national Linomenon: A player who went from the Ivy League to twice being cut in the NBA to suddenly now a starter on the resurgent Knicks is a Disney movie in the making. The Knicks, now 7-1 with Lin as their starting point guard after Sunday's 104-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks, are now playing as a team for the first time under fourth-year head coach Mike D'Antoni. But as gaudy as the numbers of "Linsanity" may be, it is the players around him who are reaping the benefits -- namely to the tune of 14 assists on Sunday afternoon.
"We came out and moved the ball and we had a lot of people that contributed tonight. I think across the board, the efficiency was there from everybody," Lin said.
"When you play like that on offense and you have a lot of weapons going at the same time, something's going to open up."
And after Lin, no one has been "going" more than his teammate Steve Novak during this Knicks resurgence.
Since the Knicks' hot streak started on Feb. 4, Novak has seen his minutes and contributions soar as his outside shooting has benefited from Lin's penetration and ability to hit open players with precise passes. Without a single double-digit performance this year prior to their recent run, Novak had a season-high nine points on Jan. 24 in a 111-78 blowout win over the Charlotte Bobcats. The fifth-year shooter is now hitting wide-open shots created by Lin's dribble penetration. Over the last eight games, Novak has topped double-digit scoring four times, including going for 19 points.
"The thing you can't teach is what he has inside his heart. You just can't teach that and he has it. His brain and his heart is huge," head coach Mike D'Antoni said of Lin.
On Sunday afternoon, before what can only be termed as a frothy Madison Square Garden, Novak went for 14 points, including four of five from 3-point range.
Not only is there a different buzz around the world's "Most Famous Arena" when Lin is on the court, or for that matter in the hours leading up to tip-off, but Number 17 is clearly the player that makes this offense click. His game isn't complete, of course; there are the seven turnovers he had in the Dallas win and the lowly 50 percent he shot on free throws, but none of that matters much to a fan base that hasn't enjoyed a second-round playoff appearance since 2000.
And late in the fourth quarter with Dirk Nowitzki in his face, he hit a crucial 3-point shot as the legend of Lin continues to grow.
"He still had a few turnovers; but the game that he had? It was ridiculous," D'Antoni said.
"Jeremy obviously, the impact, it seems like the harder the moment the better he shoots the ball and makes big plays. He's definitely fearless ."
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