What If Knicks Become More Dangerous When Melo Returns? | Zagsblog
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Saturday / April 13.
  • What If Knicks Become More Dangerous When Melo Returns?

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    NEW YORK — The biggest moment in the Knicks 100-85 win over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night may have come after Jeremy Lin left the game in the third quarter with a double-double.

    That’s when he went to the bench and shared a laugh with Carmelo Anthony.

    “We were just having fun and kind of talking about how we’re both excited for when he comes back,” Lin said after putting up 10 points and 13 assists.

    Lin and Anthony having fun together is about the best news Knicks fans can hope for.

    The Knicks (15-15) have won seven straight games since Linsanity began Feb. 4, and are at .500 for the first time since Jan. 14. Six of those wins have come with Anthony sidelined with a groin injury.

    The conventional wisdom is that Anthony’s return (possibly Friday) will hinder the Knicks’ offense, that Anthony is a ball-stopper incapable of moving the ball within the flow of the offense.

    But Lin isn’t buying that for one second and that fact — more than what fans and talking heads believe — could be what matters most going forward.

    “We’re probably going to be playing on opposite sides so when I have myself on one side of the floor and him on the other, we can swing-swing and all of a sudden the defense is in rotation and we’re coming into pick-and-rolls,” Lin said.

    “We should be more dangerous offensively.”

    More. Dangerous. Offensively.

    That phrase should stir excitement in the expensive seats at Madison Square Garden, and some trepidation across the NBA.

    What if Melo is able to adapt and play the pick-and-roll game with Lin? What if Melo sublimates his ego in order to play within the offensive flow that Lin has orchestrated over the last week or so? What if he benefits from Lin’s sublime backdoor and alley-oop passes the way Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries and Landry Fields have been?

    He is, after all, averaging a team-best 22.3 points per game.

    “He’s a lethal scorer and coming off a pick-and-roll, he can come off pick-and-rolls, too,” Lin said of Anthony. “Then that gives me a break and I can come and I can find him.”

    Anthony says he’s buying in.

    “I know there’s questions about can I fit in and stuff like that, but this is like a dream come true to me,” he said Tuesday.

    “It takes some pressure off of me; I don’t have to play point guard, I don’t have to try to get Amar’e 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. When I get back Jeremy will have the bal in his hands and I’m playing off of that.”

    Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems.

    The burden to make Anthony and Lin coexist and flourish will ultimately fall to head coach Mike D’Antoni — whose job was in jeopardy the night Linsanity began.

    “[D’Antoni] is going to have to balance that,” former Knicks guard John Starks told SNY.tv before the game. “Maybe he runs a lot more sets when Carmelo and Amar’e [Stoudemire’s] in there. When Carmelo’s out, they go into their motion. That’s really going to come down to how D’Antoni figures that one out.”

    But it also comes down to how much Lin and Anthony want to make it work. 

    Everyone who has ever been associated with Lin — from his high school coach Peter Diepenbrock to Harvard coach Tommy Amaker to his D-League coaches to former Golden State and current Sacramento coach Keith Smart –– say Lin is all about winning, all about the team.

    “I want to be the same person before and after [Linsanity],” he said. “I don’t want anything to affect me or this team.”

    So if all the Melo-Drama turns out to be a fan creation, if Lin and Melo actually do  thrive together, then perhaps this team can become more dangerous offensively.

    Now, wouldn’t that be Linsane?

    **For Notes, Quotes and Video on the game from my NBA.com notebook, click here.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.

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