It's safe to say that the New York Knicks' victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Madison Square Garden will be remembered as one of the most thrilling games of the regular season -- and perhaps as much more if Jeremy Lin continues to thrive. At the very least, Knicks fans will not soon forget the night that Jeremy Lin -- a Harvard graduate.. a bench player who was just in the Developmental League.. living on his older brother's couch and had his contract guaranteed just a few days before -- actually outdueled Kobe Bryant on national television to lead the orange and blue to their fourth straight win. His performance gave the MSG Network its best ratings all season. And, by the way, all of this went down without Amar'e Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony seeing a minute of action.
Lin's stellar performance at the helm of the Knicks' offense was so convincing as he torched Los Angeles for 38 points and seven assists that many started to actually think Anthony's return would be detrimental to the current team chemistry.
It's not a stretch to think that power forward Amar'e Stoudemire will form a potent pick-and-roll tandom with Lin when he returns to the court after missing four games while mourning the death of his brother.
But what about Carmelo? How will someone who excels in an insolation setting and dominates in one-on-one situations readjust to playing with a point guard pulling the strings and pushing the ball around the floor? One fan, seemingly speaking for many Knicks fans, wondered on Twitter if the Knicks' savior turned scapegoat knows how scared they are about his return.
As you can see, Anthony seems mostly bemused by such speculation. In fact, he called Lin's rise to stardom a "dream come true" for the Knicks, even going as far as to compare the team's unlikely star to Notre Dame football's "Rudy."
Despite pessimism about their ability to coexist, Anthony seems nearly as excited as his teammates about the team's recent Lin-powered winning streak. Well, Steve Novak is probably the happiest Knickerbocker as he's scored 62 points over the last four games after managing just 41 total up until Lin began finding him on the floor.
"My teammates know that. But to say, 'How can I fit in?' It's easy; give him the ball and space out. I get back to doing what I know how to do best. So we'll see," Anthony said. "It takes some pressure off of me. I don't have to play point guard. I don't have to try to get Amare 20 points, try to get this guy 20 points, me try to go out there and get 25-30 points a night, play defense, rebound do the whole thing."
While a cynical fan might hear such quotes and think that Anthony is merely being diplomatic, odds are the knows that he will be far more effective playing on a team with a competent point guard (sorry Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpert). Anthony hasn't played with many true point guards who aren't named Chauncey Billups. In their first season together in Denver, they led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals. Even if Lin doesn't play as well as Billups did back then, the move back to his natural position should bode well for Anthony.
The Knicks haven't had a true point guard playing alongside Anthony all season forcing him to be a facilitator. Needless to say, that role has exacerbated some of Anthony's weaknesses while also moving him away from his favored spots on the floor. It appears that Lin should change that. At this point, Anthony seems to be buying into it (he certainly seemed happy with it during the Lakers game).