Thanks to tremendous back-to-back efforts, relatively unknown Jeremy Lin has come out of nowhere to make quite a name for himself around the NBA.
Looking to post three straight victories for the first time in almost a month, visiting New York tries to extend its winning streak over the Washington Wizards to eight Wednesday night.
After seeing limited minutes in nine of the first 23 games, Lin made the most of his first significant opportunity - scoring what was then a career-high 25 points in leading New York (10-15) to Saturday's 99-92 win over New Jersey.
"I was afraid to do anything, we're already in a little bit of a crisis and I just can't be, you know, pulling straws, just trying something, a whim," coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"Other players would be looking at me like 'You crazy?' if it didn't work. Now he just kept showing stuff a little bit, a little bit. When he got one opportunity, he took advantage of it."
The Harvard product came out with an even more impressive performance in his first career start, recording 28 points and eight assists during Monday's 99-88 win over Utah.
"The excitement he has caused in the Garden, man, I hadn't seen that in a long time," Hall of Famer Magic Johnson said. "The way he can penetrate, and can get in that lane, and either shoot it or dish it, has really made them a better basketball team.
"When you get a spark a like this, especially in a season like this, this could carry them for a long time because they needed something to happen positive."
While the hype surrounding Lin - the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent - continues to grow, keeping things going could prove difficult without Anthony and Stoudemire.
Leading New York with 22.3 points per game, Anthony suffered a strained right groin versus the Jazz and is expected to sit out for at least a week. Stoudemire will miss at least a second straight game as he continues to mourn the death of his brother.
The Knicks have taken 11 of 13 meetings with the Wizards (5-20), including seven in a row by an average of 10.5 points. New York won 99-96 in the nation's capital Jan. 6 behind 37 points from Anthony and 23 from Stoudemire.
Washington also carries a bit of momentum into this matchup after snapping a four-game skid with Monday's 111-108 overtime win over Toronto. The Wizards blew an 18-point lead with 3:02 to play in the third quarter but regrouped in OT, holding the Raptors to three points.
"I'm not disappointed - not for this team," coach Randy Wittman said. "If this is another team, and we're 20-5, we should be. We're taking steps here. I'm not disappointed. I can't be disappointed. We got a win. This team needed a win - both mentally and physically.
"These young kids have to learn to play in the fourth quarter when it becomes hectic."
In addition to a combined 60 points from John Wall and Nick Young, power forward Trevor Booker also came up big, scoring a season-high 19 while adding three blocks and three steals.
Averaging 85.8 points during a four-game road skid, New York hasn't won three in a row since a season-best four-game run Jan. 6-11.
Washington last won back-to-back games April 9-11.
- Washington Wizards
- Carmelo Anthony
- New York
- Jeremy Lin