Chandler, Lin lead balanced Knicks effort
If Linsanity really is dead, Knicks fans may have already found its replacement.
Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire, getting a break during a blowout, spotted a sign at Madison Square Garden that read ”Woodsanity.”
”I told Jeremy, I said, ‘This is getting out of control,’ ” Stoudemire laughed.
But whatever Mike Woodson has changed — and he insisted it wouldn’t be too much — sure is working for the Knicks.
Tyson Chandler scored 16 points, Lin had 13, and New York rolled to its second straight dominant victory under its interim coach, beating the Indiana Pacers 115-100 on Friday night.
Reserves JR Smith (16 points) and Steve Novak (12) had big games again for the Knicks in the opener of a home-and-home series. Two nights after beating Portland by 42 on the day Mike D’Antoni resigned, New York led this one by as much as 32 and shut down Pacers star Danny Granger, who had angered them by saying Friday and Saturday were two ”very winnable games.”
Instead, the Pacers never led and had their two-game winning streak snapped. Granger shot 4 of 15 for nine points, while All-Star Roy Hibbert was 2 of 10 and scored four. Darren Collison led Indiana with 15 points.
”We’ve got to understand what we’re facing. This is an extremely talented team, maybe one of the most talented teams in the NBA, and they’re playing with a renewed sense of urgency because of the coaching change like all teams do with coaching changes,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”So they’re a force right now.”
Carmelo Anthony, expected to have a bigger role in Woodson’s offense, shot as poorly as he was under D’Antoni and finished with 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Stoudemire was only 3 of 9 for eight points, but neither played more than 28 minutes in the blowout.
New York had lost six straight games to stumble into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot when D’Antoni stepped down. Woodson has tried to get the team to play with more urgency, and they have been dynamite right from the tip in both games.
”I think with the change, we had to come together as a team and really figure out and ask ourselves what we really want,” Anthony said. ”Right now, we want to win basketball games, we want to get to them playoffs, and why not start now?”
Much of the focus since Wednesday has been on what the changes Woodson would make could mean for the Knicks, especially Lin, a breakout star who flourished under the freedom given to point guards and the pick-and-roll schemes in D’Antoni’s system.
There was speculation he could lose his starting job, and the back page of the New York Post on Friday even featured a tombstone with the inscription ”R.I.P. Linsanity,” the term that arose out of the Lin sensation that started last month.
But Woodson insisted before the game that he wasn’t planning to make many changes and that Lin would remain the starter with a big role. And he said the idea that his offense relies mostly on isolation sets is ”so untrue,” adding that his team in Atlanta had six double-figure scorers and was second in the league in offensive efficiency.
Besides, Woodson said the defense is what’s more important, and the Knicks played it superbly again. After allowing a season-low 29 points in the first half against Portland, the Knicks limited the Pacers to 31 while building a 19-point cushion.
”It was incredible,” Chandler said of the defense. ”We made it tough for them. We didn’t let them breathe and we didn’t let up at any time.”
The Pacers missed nine straight shots during a 14-2 run that gave the Knicks a 21-6 lead with 2:07 left in the first quarter when Jared Jeffries drove right down the middle of the lane unimpeded. Indiana made a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes to cut it to 24-14 after one.
The Knicks extended it to 19, let it get down to 12, then scored the final seven of the half to make it 50-31 on Lin’s 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left. It became a rout in the third, when the Knicks shot 60 percent as Smith and Novak began to find the range.
Vogel said it was good that the Pacers were getting another shot at the Knicks so quickly.
”Bad game for us,” said Granger, who denied making the comment that motivated the Knicks, though it was captured on video.
”We missed layups, we missed dunks, we missed open 3s and it happens. A lot of games in the season, you’re going to have games like that.”
Notes: Baron Davis played only 7 minutes for the Knicks because of a strained right hamstring. He scored seven points and made all three shots. He said the injury was only a ”minor setback” and said he expected to be all right in a couple of days. … Woodson plans to add Darrell Walker and Jim Todd to his coaching staff Saturday, and said Bill Smith, his old high school coach, will come support him in an advisory role. The Knicks are down to just Herb Williams and Kenny Atkinson after Dan D’Antoni and Phil Weber departed with Mike D’Antoni. … Leandro Barbosa, acquired by the Pacers from Toronto before Thursday’s trade deadline, isn’t yet on the active roster.