The NBA: Empire State of Mind

Jeremy Lin (L) has made everyone, including Tyson Chandler (R),
play at a much higher level than a week earlier.
(image by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh; There's nothin' you can't do; Now you're in New York; These streets will make you feel brand new; Big lights will inspire you; Let's hear it for New York.” – Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys.

Let’s hear it for Jeremy Lin. (Okay, I’m bandwagoning here, but is there really a better story than Lin’s 38 on Kobe and the Lakeshow?)

I’ll keep this one short and simply say about Jeremy Lin what millions already know, and what hundreds have already said/written on Facebook, Twitter, or their own blogs.

The Knicks now belong to Lin.

Lin will continue to make Tyson Chandler look like an All-Star.

Lin will make Amar’e Stoudemire look like an All-Star when Amar’e comes back.

Lin will make Mike D’Antoni look like a genius.

As long as he plays consistently, which means average double-digits in points, and better than 6 or 7 assists per game the rest of the season, then there is NO WAY Lin will not be the 6th Man of the Year.

Lin has also made New York exciting again.

And the only thing that could potentially ruin everything not just for Lin or the Knicks?

Ironically, it’s the same thing that made NYC exciting this time last season.

Carmelo Anthony.

Because Melo believes New York is his team, his city. Because Melo hasn’t really played like an All-Star starter, but he believes he’s what an All-Star is all about.

Because, if you really think about it, the person with the most to lose when an unknown becomes known is the person most well-known.

Everyone in New York is happy because of, and for, Lin, and everybody believes Kobe has been Lin’s biggest test so far.

I’m willing to wager, however, that things will be less happy when Melo tries to retake the spotlight.

And when that happens, Melo, and not anyone or anything else, will be Lin’s REAL biggest test.

Because that’s what happens in a city like New York – a city of skyscrapers, fat paychecks, and blinding spotlights. That’s the real Empire State of Mind.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

ATL over ORL, 89-87 (OT) – Again, Josh Smith should be an All-Star. 23 points and 19 rebounds against Dwight Howard’s Magic? You gotta be kidding. And Smith’s All-Star teammate Joe Johnson? 14 points and 5 assists. Not too shabby, but come on. 23 and 19? Travesty.
MIA over WAS, 106-89 – The Wizards were just what the doctor ordered for the Heat, who were seeking to recover from their road loss to Orlando a few days earlier. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had 26 and 18 points respectively to pace Miami. LBJ also added 9 dimes to showcase his all-around brilliance. Chris Bosh was solid, too, with 24 markers and 11 ribbies.
CHI over CHA, 95-64 – The Bulls aren’t better without the MVP, but at 5-1 without D-Rose? They could sure fool anybody. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer held down the fort, combining for 33 points while Noah grabbed 14 rebounds. CJ Watson played the minutes meant for Rose, and he was solid with 7 points, 5 assists, 4 thefts and no TOs.
TOR over BOS, 86-74 – In this league, any 5 guys can compete and beat any other 5. That adage held true for the Raptors, who upset the visiting Celts thanks DeMar DeRozan’s 21 points and Jose Calderon’s best Steve Nash impersonation of 17 markers and 14 assists. The Cs were just plain awful here, as they scored fewer than 75 for the first time since 2001.
LAC over PHI, 78-77 – After losing Chauncey Billups for the whole season, things looked bad for the Clips, but this big win over the overachieving Sixers was just what they needed. As expected the duo of CP3 and BG carried LA here, with Paul scoring 24 points and nailing the winning shot in the clutch, and Griffin getting a nice double-double.
MIL over CLE, 113-112 (OT) – Brandon Jennings hit the big shots on his way to 24 points, Drew Gooden was solid down low with 19 markers, and Scott Skiles, frustrated at the Bucks’ execution, got himself tossed late in the third period as Milwaukee withstood Antawn Jamison’s 34-point explosion and netted their 5th win in their last 7 road games.
DET over NJN, 109-92 – The Pistons have been blown out of the water several times this season, but this time they made sure they got the upper hand. Greg Monroe, another notable All-Star snub, led Detroit to its fourth straight triumph with 18 points on top of 11 rebounds. The Nets, meanwhile, dropped their fifth straight.
POR over NOH, 94-86 – Jamal Crawford willed his way to a season-high 31 points and willed the Blazers to beating the Hornets to snap a 2-game slide. Raymond Felton also played big with 18 markers, while newly minted All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge added 14. New Orleans lost its 8th in a row.
DAL over MIN, 104-97 – Maybe the All-Star nod was all Dirk needed to get back into the groove of things. Nowitzki won his battle with fellow All-Star Kevin Love, scoring 33 points. He shot 11-of-19 from the field, including 4 triples. Jason Kidd returned to action and played well, too, finishing with 8 points, 5 boards, and 10 dimes.
MEM over IND, 98-92 – The snubbed were the ones who led the way for both teams in this one. Rudy Gay had 21 points for the Grizz while David West and Danny Granger finished with 22 and 19 respectively for the Pacers. Memphis All-Star Marc Gasol ended up with a respectable 15 markers, but Indiana’s Roy Hibbert was a woeful 1-of-7 from the floor.
NYK over LAL, 92-85 – The Lakers played well enough to steal one from the Celtics, but they were surely not ready for Jeremy Lin and each of his career-high 38 points. And what’s the thanks Lin gets? Kobe vows payback next time they meet. I guess that’s a good thing when one of the best in the world has got his sights set you, right?
OKC over UTA, 101-87 – KD had a pedestrian 19 points to his name by game’s end, but the Thunder never really needed his best tonight, as Russell Westbrook, Segre Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins took care of carrying most of the load. Jet Zero topped OKC with 28 points while the burly frontcourt pairing of Ibaka and Perkins combined for 26 points and 21 rebounds. The Thunder’s 21-6 slate is the best out West, which means Scott Brooks will be the West All-Stars’ coach in Florida.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Jeremy Lin (NYK) – 38
Antawn Jamison (CLE) & Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 34
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 33
Kevin Love (MIN) – 32

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Josh Smith (ATL) – 19
Dwight Howard (ORL) – 18
Trevor Booker (WAS) – 15

Josh Smith showed why he should have been
named an East All-Star.
Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Ramon Sessions (CLE) – 16
Jose Calderon (TOR) – 14
Jason Kidd (DAL) & John Wall (WAS) – 10

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Nicolas Batum (POR), Vince Carter (DAL), Russell Westbrook (OKC), & Greivis Vasquez (NOH) – 5

Jet Zero ensured his OKC coach, Scott Brooks,
will be the one calling the shots in this year's All-Star Game. 

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Jason Maxiell (DET) – 4
A LOT with 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), Michael Beasley (MIN), & Danny Granger (IND) – 4 

Feb. 10, 2012 First Five
C – Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 33pts, 4rebs, 4 treys, 3asts, 3blks, 1stl
F – Antawn Jamison (CLE) – 34pts, 11rebs, 3asts, 1blk
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 32pts, 12rebs, 3asts
G – Jamal Crawford (POR) – 31pts, 8asts, 2rebs, 1stl
G – Jeremy Lin (NYK) – 38pts, 7asts, 4rebs, 2stls

Dirk Nowitzki seems to have finally rediscovered
the form that led the Mavs to last year's title.

Honorable Mention:
Josh Smith (ATL) – 23pts, 19rebs, 5asts, 3blks
Jose Calderon (TOR) – 17pts, 14asts, 4rebs, 1stl
Chris Bosh (MIA) – 24pts, 11rebs, 3asts, 1stl, 1blk

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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