Nets 100, Knicks 92

New Jersey Nets 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 4-11 FG | 3-6 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -10

it’s impossible to expect a player of Melo’s pedigree and caliber to come out after a two-week groin hiatus — with the onus of Linsanity having hung over his every word and move — and not over-think things. Yes, I’m 95% sure I got tetanus of the eyes watching Melo shoot a basketball tonight. Yes, he was undoubtedly not in game shape. Yes, DeSagana Diop could’ve realistically beat him in a shooting contest. But Melo was far from the problem tonight — the six dimes and crisp passes being part testament to that. Not that the tabloids will care.

Amare Stoudemire, PF 36 MIN | 7-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -6

You can basically tell whether Stat has it going on a given night based on what he does the first time he touches the ball. Tonight, Amar’e dribbled directly into Kris Humphries and punted the ball out of bounds. That was it in a rotten, festering nutshell. He couldn’t rebound, he couldn’t defend, he couldn’t rotate quickly enough, and he couldn’t hit a jump shot. Look, I love the guy, and I want him to bounce back and have a torrid second half of the season just as much as the next guy. But it’s nights like these that make such hope feel like a fool’s errand.

Tyson Chandler, C 24 MIN | 4-5 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | +14

Let’s make a list of things that aren’t good for wrist injuries. I’ll start: Driving to the basket and running into a Sheldenasaurus Wiliams, who proceeds to grab you by said wrist, and pull you down onto your face…. That seems like a decent enough list, so we’ll just stop there. Chandler was questionable prior to tip-off, and really, I almost wish he’d just taken the night off, stymied as he once again was by early foul woes – foul in heavy, heavy italics. Is he sleeping with Haywoode Workman’s wife? Ex-wife? Daughter? Daughters? These are the only explanations I can conjure for Chandler’s continued whistle-lashed fortunes. Then again, it doesn’t exactly help you’re cause chasing Kris Humphries back to the Nets bench and repeatedly smacking him on the ass and shoulder. Nobody wins when that happens.

Landry Fields, G 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +9

Landrythan was all sorts of Ritalin fiendish early on, with a handful of out-of-control drives and misguided passes tempering for a moment what had been a pretty encouraging run of late. He did a decent job of keeping Deron Williams from going completely nuclear in the second half, while finishing with double-digit boards for the second time in a week. On offense, Fields continues to look at ease and in rhythm, despite the occasional blunder.

Jeremy Lin, PG 36 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 21 PTS | -1

So apparently Jeremy Lin has a harder time going left than Joe McCarthy. What’s amazing is that it took a full nine games for an NBA team to truly capitalize on that theory. Supposed Nets code-cracking aside, and despite arguably his spottiest offensive outing to date, Lin also flirted pretty heavily with his first career triple double. But a combination of having to adjust to the much heralded return of the team’s self-proclaimed leader, and a brilliant defensive strategy on the part of the Nets — who basically turned that end of the court into a pinball machine — made for a night heavy on bruises, and light on heroics.

Baron Davis, PG 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -12

OMG OMG OMG OMG! I’m so nervous I’ve been waiting to write about Baron in a recap for soooooo long! Is my hair OK? How ‘bout that really ill-advised Evanescence tattoo on my forehead – is that showing? OMG OMG Baron just jumped and did a behind-the-back with the ball before throwing a perfect cross-court pass to Steve Novak for a corner three! I know it didn’t count but AHHHHHHHHHH!… In all seriousness, how many of you out there would’ve flinched more softly if Santa Claus checked in to start the second quarter? Thought so. The positive thing here is that 1) he actually played, and 2) his back didn’t collapse like a Jenga tower. Baby steps.

Jared Jeffries, PF 24 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -22

Not exactly sure where that -22 came from, but I’m assuming it had something to do with Shelden Williams and Kris Humphries keeping dudes off the glass at gunpoint. Jeffries still managed to show flashes of the team defense genius that’s helped staple him to the rotation, but a pair of bungled offensive opportunities and bad timing in the boards made for a sub-par night for our resident Hoosier.

Steve Novak, SF 17 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +4

I’m too tired to write about Steve Novak.

J.R. Smith, SG 24 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -16

If J.R. Smith took actual ballet lessons, he might average 60 points a game. As it was, Smith rolled off the bench with a flurry of ridiculously athletic – and sometimes stupid – plays on offense. He hit a couple huge shots…. Check that, he hit two shots – one in each half — with the rest ricocheting violently off rim and backboard. The stout defense remains, however, which will doubtless be key down the stretch.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Aside from the full-length fur coats, wallet-crushing gas prices, and super awkward key parties, taking a time machine back to 1970 was pretty cool… for, like, ten minutes. Early on, the quick, decisive passing, good defensive rotations, and general aura of camaraderie were positively invigorating, to the point where I actually had a hard time keeping track of the ball, on a couple of possessions. But that all crumbled away in a sea of shit and fire, of course.
  2. if you peak inside Deron Williams’ man cave, you’ll probably find a life sized Fat Head of Jeremy Lin, his face completely shredded with dart holes. After his blistering 68-point performance (I’m assuming it was 68 / it might have been more / leave me alone), Williams admitted that Linsanity essentially beginning on his watch was something he’d taken personally. Clearly.
  3. I’ll probably be up until 4am scouring the interwebs for reports of Kris Humphries imminent mauling at the hands of Knick fans on a President’s Day bender. Say what you will about the dude (actually, don’t), his lack of human-level cognitive functioning makes him basically immune to any kind of collective hostility, Garden crowd included.
  4. I really hate it when I build up a towering, righteous rage towards the refs for transparently twisting the game to their own biases and histories (I’m looking at you, Haywood), only to find out that they actually called the fouls dead even (25 to 25). But — and I’m trying really hard not to go all sour grapes here — the timing of the some of the calls killed us tonight. From Chandler’s “charge” (how you can get called for a charge after being dragged down by your half-broken wrists, I’ll never know) to Melo and Lin’s fruitless forays into a blizzard of flailing limbs and Johan Petros, it was the Zebras who feasted tonight.
  5. For as sporadic and 3-9 as he’s been of late, we seriously missed Iman Shumpert tonight. With D-Will’s personal vendetta against Jeremy Lin taking it’s toll at both ends of the floor, having Shump out there to bat his wings around Deron’s face would’ve been invaluable in this one. As it turned out, D-Will feasted all night on a Knick back court either physically out-beefed (Lin) or too rusty (Boom Dizzle) to hang.
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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

43 thoughts to “Nets 100, Knicks 92”

  1. I would consider any trade offer for Stoudemire as a salary dump to get back expiring contracts. There I said it. This contract is going to be an albatross. Can’t afford to have a 4 out there who doesn’t defend or rebound, particularly when he struggles on offense (all season). That’s my over-reaction of the night.

  2. So, this is the second night in a row the opposing teams best player went for a season high, right? It’s critical that the Knicks understand that they’re going to get each teams best game. They should have seen this Deron Williams thing coming and had a team defense planned for it.

  3. C for B-Dizzle? Seems a touch generous. His first act as a Knick. Dribble, dribble, dribble. Step back. Three point jack…..

    As the Knicks proved last year, shoot enough threes and you’ll have nights they all go in. Not sure what could have stopped the Nyets tonight. Don’t think Shump’s wings even would have been enough….

    I am not excited about the return of Melo. I will leave it at that….

  4. How can you not root for melo? There’s no way they go deep in the playoffs unless he’s a cornerstone.

  5. I’m not happy about this loss at all so no offense Jim but I just need to blow off steam. No way Chandler gets a B+. I give him credit for playing hurt but his third and fourth fouls both of which put him on the bench for extended minutes were completely avoidable- especially picking up the fourth trying to draw an offensive foul against Humphries off of the ball? What could he have possibly been thinking? Add a ridiculous tech and getting outworked by Humphries most of the game and I’d give him a C at best. Fields got torched on D and while he did have the game’s only real highlight by dunking on Humphries, his inconsistency from outside really hurt. Outside of that last second bucket he was awful in the first half so his grade is too high too. I’ll give Lin a break but he struggled to find anyone he could guard- Gaines included- he looked gassed but he better get used to teams attacking him on the defensive end.

  6. C for BD?
    Maybe he had a private joke with a friend that the first time he touched the ball he was going to run behind the arc and launch.
    For the non-believers, the first proof that he’s a shoot first PG.
    B+ for Lin?
    DWill mopped the floor with him, so I guess you really can’t give him an A.
    Not sure what you’re smoking, but I ‘d like to get some.

  7. I really enjoyed “a sea of shit and fire.”

    That was the best thing about tonight.

    Also just because there’s an even number of calls doesn’t mean the game was called fair. To my eye we were getting mauled a lot. We were attacking the basket all game while they were chucking contested threes.

    At the half we had something like 3x the points in the paint and 1/2 the FTA’s.

    Deron Williams got nearly as many FTA’s just off his 3 point attempts as Lin got throughout the whole game…. And Lin is easily the top foul-drawing PG in the entire league thus far.

  8. Deron Williams plays like this sometimes. Lin plays like this every day. We’ll see who goes further.

  9. hoolahoop:
    C for BD?
    Maybe he had a private joke with a friend that the first time he touched the ball he was going to run behind the arc and launch.
    For the non-believers, the first proof that he’s a shoot first PG.
    B+ for Lin?
    DWill mopped the floor with him, so I guess you really can’t give him an A.
    Not sure what you’re smoking, but I ‘d like to get some.

    Who cares if hes a shoot first point guard or a pass first point guard. Ever heard of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook? Bottom line is he needed to be a shoot first point guard tonight because NOBODY was making shots. Amare was not good, is an understatement, Melo and Davis were rusty. Novak and JR had an off night, Chandler was too busy fighting with Humphries. The rest of the guys are role players and defensive specialists. Who else is going to score? Bibby? Douglas? I’m surprised he even got 9 assists. Guys remember, this was a back to back game. NBA games aren’t even supposed to be back to back, if not for the lockout. No way a reserve player goes into starter role and expect to perform at 100% on a BACK TO BACK game. This was Jeremy Lin’s C, at best C+ game. Not going to throw anyone under the bus, but everyone was basically gased or just coming back from injuries, and other business. Anyone who STILL doubts Jeremy Lin at this point is either blind or only looking at his face(race) while he plays and not watching him as a whole (athlete). When you are rooting for the best player on your team for the past 10 games to fail…I really can’t come up with a sensible reason…really.

  10. That was an unfortunate game. The Nets were really hot and the refs were really bad. The refs were really bad in both directions but they were terrible and because of style of play it hurt us more. Both teams were getting mauled inside but unfortunately we were in the paint a lot more. Then when they tried to tighten up the game they were just sort of randomly calling fouls. It was really painful.

    Teams are really getting physical with Lin and he needs to sell those bumps after the picks harder. It wasn’t as bad as vs NO but he needs to bounce a bit more off the bigmen when they hedge hard into him. He needs to draw those fouls. Watch video of Nash he sells those hits off the pick really well and teams don’t hit him as much.

  11. The thing I hated about the refs was they were inconsistent. In the beginning, they were calling ticky tacky fouls, so the Nets players caught on, and kept selling those “brushed my pinky” +ones. Knicks players got frustrated, so they tried to do the same thing but DIDNT get the calls, so it became a constant issue, with make up calls on both ends. Thats where the 25/25 fouls come in. Refs KNOW people check the stats at the end of the game, so they always try to give make up calls. The knew they called a bad game…but it was already too late.

  12. Ben R: Teams are really getting physical with Lin and he needs to sell those bumps after the picks harder…. Watch video of Nash he sells those hits off the pick really well and teams don’t hit him as much.

    We need more bumps like the penguin belly slide that drew a flagrant on Jason Terry. Send Lin to pro wrestling school.

  13. BigBlueAL:
    The Nets actually shot 39% for the game, worse than the Knicks.

    A crisp 17-51 within the arc for 33%…

    If they shoot any sort of normal percentage from deep we destroy them. Sigh…

  14. Look, this was just one of those games.

    Deron Williams, while not the same without the flex, can keep his team in any game against any team on any given night.

    On top of it, you’re going to win (I’d guess) 90-95 percent of the time when you make 15 3’s on near 50 percent. (Note: When i plugged this into PBR this is what it looked like)

    You can clearly see that this is the case (if someone can use a spreadsheet to figure out the win % that would be sweet)

    These games happen to most every team in the league a few times a year, regardless of how good you are defensively (Miami’s been bombed out a couple times this year)

    But here’s my thing: As the season progresses the Knicks are fully capable of winning this game.

    They were just a hair short of a spectacular offensive game, not converting on a high number of good possessions. There was rust from Melo, some instances were a lack of familiarity hurt, but very poor shooting on good looks both inside and out (and yes, a poor whistle figured in too)

    You (or perhaps I) can see how devastating this team is going to be.

    There are some soft spots defensively at times, Lin is very average on the ball. It takes a lot of awareness to cover up for Amar’e issues. But most nights you can deal with that.

    Frankly this will still be a good defensive team, very good if managed properly by MDA (in terms of rotations).

    The sharing of the ball was fantastic at times. You can see how commited this team will be towards each other.

    And the offensive weapons will simply overwhelm most nights.

    It may take a few weeks, it may not, but this will be a great team.

  15. formido: How can you not root for melo? There’s no way they go deep in the playoffs unless he’s a cornerstone.

    He had the 5-6 excellent cuts to the rim where Lin found him that he’ll eventually convert. ( a couple of misses and a couple of turnovers last night)

    Anyone who thinks Melo’s offensive game is all iso is a blithering idiot.

    This is one of, if not the most versatile offensive players in basketball, and he’s going to play the most efficient game of his career in this offense with this kind of pg (neither of which he’s ever had before)

    He had some excellent drives coming off Lin’s penetration against a rotating defender (opportunities he almost never had previously) was great in the PnR (per usual), and made numerous lighting-quick passes to the open man, resulting in 6 assists (which would be more like 8-10 on a night shots are going in).

    Featuring him some on the post to mix it up and create double teams and isos with the clock winding down, given what he’ll be doing in the PnR, catch and shoot and catch and drive…. just really complements what everyone else does. He can fit into almost any kind of situation with this personnel.

    Throw in some early post-ups in semi-transition, and he’s going to be the super versatile player that I honestly think can make this the best offense in the game.

    Once JR is truly integrated, and guys start developing a rapport and understanding of each other’s abilities, wow.

  16. critgeog: I would consider any trade offer for Stoudemire as a salary dump to get back expiring contracts.

    THANK YOU!!! I so agree. Not only does he suck on defense, can’t jump, and seems to coat his hands with vaseline every game, but also, he has no personality. You need some flair if you’re gonna play in NY, and this guy’s a dud in my book!

  17. The game was blatantly rigged make no mistake, I knew they would make it seem even by the end of the game so I took down the free throw and personal fouls numbers after three quarters. It was 12-23 Nets and 19 Knicks fouls, 14 Nets fouls. It is disgusting that the refs got away with such a blatant travesty of a game. I haven’t seen a game this poorly officiated (on purpose by the way they wanted a Knicks loss from the start) since the Grizzles 35-2 ft advantage game last season.

  18. 23 assists on 32 made baskets. That’s very good.

    The Sixers lead the NBA in assist percentage at 16.5 (16.5 percent of possessions result in assist).

    Last night the Knicks were just under 23 percent (101 possessions).

  19. For those who believe the ball would move less with the inclusion of Melo, last night was second highest assist percentage game of the Lin era.

    Higher in every contest outside of Sacramento

  20. Trade requests after one loss? Come on.

    Maybe it’s because I can’t blame the Knicks for that one. Last night marked the first time I’ve ever stopped watching a game (that I could’ve finished) out of sheer frustration… had I kept watching, there would’ve been a guaranteed anuerysm in my future. That was the worst officiated game I’ve seen all season, and it was one of the worst I’ve seen in nearly the last five years. I’ve never seen such a blatant disregard for the rules of the game from an officiating staff. When combined with the Nets not missing threes, it became too much to handle.

    I’d like to see how this team does in a few more NORMAL games. This one certainly doesn’t qualify, in my mind.

  21. I’m a little surprised by the strident commentary from all sides. Where was this this Sunday? What I really can’t figure out is where did the team that played the in the first quarter go.

  22. Nick C.: I’m a little surprised by the strident commentary from all sides. Where was this this Sunday? What I really can’t figure out is where did the team that played the in the first quarter go.

    I didn’t see a significant difference, honestly, outside of the change of momentum that occurs when you don’t convert an offensive opportunities you should and the other team gets hot.

    You didn’t see Amar’e, Melo, Smith or Lin really try to change the game by himself. I think the fact that stayed within the team concept despite things go very badly is a great sign.

  23. JPC’s wifey—mentioning vaseline together with a Knicks player conjures a frightening ghost of Christmas past. What a way to start the morning.

  24. totally agree with @19 – when a team shoots 50% from 3 on THIRTY 3’s taken, you’re going to lose that game. A fair share of those were uncontested, but lots of them were contested too. Every now and again, a team will get hot like that. Fine, move on. Pretty telling game quarter by quarter though. When Tyson was in (1st quarter and 4th quarter) – Nets scored 18 points each. When Tyson was out (2/3rd quarters) – Nets scored 32 points each. Granted lots of those points were 3’s (especially when DWill went supernova in the 3rd) but it’s hard to know whether the way the D was structured during those plays was altered because of no scary shot blocker in the paint.

    You know – we make fun of Clyde all the time because of his “english”, but the man is right on a lot of the time. He called it in the 1st half that the game was getting out of control and that the refs were not doing their job.

    I thought this was one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen – and I feel like I say that every other game. Other than not taking a possession away from us for no reason like has already happened 2x this season, , how many shooting fouls on NJ were completely missed? TC when he nearly had his left arm broken by Williams on a “strip”, Melo when he was hacked on one of his layup attempts.

    The quality of officiating in this league has gone WAY down. It’s not just that the calls are bad – it’s that different teams and players are officiated even more differently than ever. If you breathe on Wade, it’s a foul. If you shoot a dirty look at Durant, it’s a foul. If you chop off Tyson Chandler’s arm with a chainsaw, it’s an offensive foul on TC.

    Totally agree on STAT – he looks rusty and out of sorts in the offense. It looks like going forward his main offensive job is to hit that elbow jumper – if he keeps shooting <40% from there, I'm not sure he has much value in this offense right now. And we all know he has zero value on D.

  25. Last thing – we are still playing with zero practices. JR STILL doesn’t know any plays. Melo still hasn’t practiced with the new God-like Jeremy Lin. The team still hasn’t practiced with a roster that has more offensive firepower than any team since Showtime.

    I think we’ll be ok.

    Would’ve been nice to see what Shump would have done on D-Will in the 3rd.

  26. Some guys get better whistles than others, there’s no question about that. I’m not sure why Durant gets what may be the greatest whistle in NBA history (I’m serious about that if you look at his foul rate compared to his shot chart) but he does show contact well and his lack of strength is a huge benefit until the playoffs.

    Wade gets a great whistle, but Kobe gets a bad one.

    Hard to explain why refs seem to favor certain guys. Some of it is style of play, percieved athleticism, etc.

    I don’t think the Knicks get a particularly bad whistle. Last night was an exception (and I think it more or less happens to every team). Fans of every team complain about it incessantly.

    Either STAT’s career is essentially coming to end, or he’s going to bounce back.

    I believe he’ll have that second half resurgence becuase there have been flashes.

    Kenyon Martin is still going as a top-athlete after two microfracture surgeries. Amar’e still shows the explosion once or twice a game.

    Hard to explain the huge drop-off in his mid-range shot. I think it will come back, and I’m hoping he finds his legs in the second half.

  27. Any team in the NBA that gets hot from 3 can beat even the best teams, so I’m not too upset about this one. Perfect example — the other night the Nets beat the Bulls — only the best defensive team in the league in most people’s opinion. I really liked the way that Melo tried to fit into the offense and made some really nice passes. Even when he went iso, the moves were quick and not ball-stopping. The officiating in this game was absolutely horrible. How many times did Melo get clobbered on his way to the rim? There were at least four blatant fouls on him that were ignored — including the layup that should have been and “+1” when he looked like he hurt his leg.

  28. By the way, 3 weeks ago, Knicks fans would have been deliriously happy with Lin’s stat line from last night — 21 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 turnovers. Isn’t it funny how we are already taking a performance like that for granted as if it is no big deal?

  29. critgeog:

    I don’t think the Knicks get a particularly bad whistle. Last night was an exception (and I think it more or less happens to every team). Fans of every team complain about it incessantly.

    Either STAT’s career is essentially coming to e

    I’ve been playing with trade machine all night after this fucking disaster. STAT for KG 1 to 1 trade works out. KG’s contract expires at the end of this year. We’ll have 21 more million to spend, instead of it being tied up to a PF who can’t defend, can’t rebound, and now can’t hit the open jumpshot. What a sad ordeal, we’re lucky if he turns out to be an older Antonio McDyess.

  30. Let’s see, Amare couldn’t work out all summer because of a bad back, had no training camp, spent the first 20+ games trying to mesh in a broken offense and trying to figure out low post spacing with another low post presence, missed a few games with injuries, is dealing with a personal tragedy and everyone thinks that the Knicks should dump him ASAP?!? Can everyone please calm down and be patient? Let’s wait to see how the rest of the season plays out before you conclude that he can’t play anymore.

  31. “The timing of the some of the calls killed us tonight.”

    Don’t forget that 3 pointer the Nets hit with about -5 on the shot clock!
    Apparently, the refs thought Melo had possession of the ball when he got one hand on the side of it for 0.1 seconds.

  32. More in defense of Amare — Do you realize that, in the last 10 games in which he has played, Amare has averaged 19 points (on 49% from the field and 82% from the line) and 8 rebounds a game? He is starting to round into game shape. And for all the criticism of both him and Melo on defense, they both play 35 minutes a game and somehow the Knicks are 8th in the league in offensive efficiency. And that is not a statistical anomaly caused by the two of them missing a bunch of games — they were 9th before they both missed games. If they are so bad defensively, how could their team be so good defensively with them playing major minutes? Maybe they are not as horrible as everyone makes them out to be…

  33. johnno: dealing with a personal tragedy

    I know, I know. I felt kind of bad about what I wrote after I took off to teach yoga this morning. I have no idea how hard that must have been, so ok. I’ll cut him some slack this year.

    But nobody be taking my KG! Whoever suggested that… find another PF. KG will retire a CELTIC!

    Vaseline? Hmm, I’ll have to ask Jim about that, only been following the Knicks since I met him. ;-)

  34. 2 comments today.

    1. Dont understand why Woodson didnt set the midcourt “lin” doubleteam trap on deron from the opening tip till the end of the game. the team clearly had one player that can beat you and we let him do it.

    2. I am getting sick of hearing the ” we need practice, training camp, gelling time … etc” excuse after we hit a bump or bring in new guys. When they inserted lin last week and played amazing, they didnt need any practice or time to gel. BS excuse , stop is already

  35. I’ve already said this in previous posts but I’m fairly convinced that Amar’e still has a hurt back. I remember all this talk about him fixing his posture or whatever and I’m sure it’s all because he doesn’t want to squat and bend his back.

    Look at his posture and height of the ball when he dribbles. This year the ball is almost always near shoulder height and he doesn’t get low enough. He’s probably too proud/stupid to admit that it’s still bothering him. I know for a fact that when my lower back is tight, the last thing I want to do is squat down or lower my body position.

  36. Any chance you could add other stats (TO, F, 3pts, etc.) to the summary so I can just look here instead of at a box score first? 0:)

    Happy the Baron is ready..Lin needs to rest a bit. He deserves it!

  37. Here is a clean analysis, using alternative statistics, of what Jeremy Lin is actually bringing to the table:
    This analysis gets away from the sensational aspect of Linsanity, and makes an objective case for what he really is: a player playing at the level of an All-Star alternate, with some holes in his game that nevertheless can be filled along the learning curve.

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