NEW YORK — The last time Jeremy Lin faced the Miami Heat, he got a DNP-Coach’s Decision.
This time around, he figures to see a lot of playing time — and a healthy dose of LeBron James.“Obviously, LeBron is a great player and a great, great defender,” Lin said after putting up 17 points and nine assists in the Knicks’ 99-82 win over the Hawks at MSG. “So just gotta continue to be aggressive and not change anything on my end.”
The Knicks (17-17) will try to get above .500 for the first time in six weeks when they face a Heat team (26-7) that has won seven straight and spent the day resting.
James has already told reporters in Miami he’s looking forward to the challenge of defending Lin, who has led the Knicks to a 9-2 mark since Linsanity began Feb. 4.
“I know I’m going to end up guarding Lin at some point,” LeBron told reporters Wednesday, according to CBSSports.com.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said that showed “respect” on their part.
“That’s good,” he said. “That shows maximum respect if that happens and Jeremy will handle it and hopefully the Knicks will handle it.”
Lin said he’s received advice from Carmelo Anthony — with whom he teamed successfully in the first game both started — on how to handle a lot of things, including James.
“Melo among others have given me a ton of advice on and off the court…everything,” Lin said. “During the off days he has been giving me advice. He has taken me under his wing.”
Anthony said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“We are going down there to win,” he said. “Miami is playing great basketball right now. It will be a fun game. It will be a great experience for the guys who are playing in this [type of game for the] first time.”
The Heat beat the Knicks on Jan. 27 in Miami, 99-89, but Lin didn’t play at all.
His rise to global superstardom began a week later, with a Feb. 4 win over the Nets at the Garden.
Asked if he had ever seen Lin play at Harvard, James said, “I never watch Harvard basketball. I never watch Harvard.’’
He did admit to watching Lin against John Wall in the 2010 Summer League.
James also seemed to take a shot at Lin for appearing on back-to-back Sports Illustrated covers.
“Make sure he doesn’t take that for granted and get those covers and frame them and put them in his house,” James said.
Lin said he’s more concerned with the Knicks’ than with LeBron.
“We want to build momentum going into the All-Star break and we want to make a push after the All-Star break,” Lin said. “And this is a good opportunity to build momentum. It’s a big game [against Miami], don’t get me wrong. We’re playing a great team and it’s going to be a good evaluation of where we’re at, so from that end obviously we’re excited.”
**For Video, Notes & Quotes on the Hawks-Knicks game, read the NBA.com notebook here.
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.