New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has had arguably one of the best starts to a career in NBA history, scoring a record 136 points in his first five games as a starter and leading his team to a 6-0 record in his first six starts.
But Lin’s fairy tale did not have a happy ending Friday when the Hornets’ 89-85 victory in New York snapped the Knick’s winning streak and brought Lin back to reality.
The Hornets’ (7-23) game plan was simple: put pressure on the 23-year-old Lin and force him to make mistakes.
And that’s what happened.
Lin, who averaged six turnovers per game during the previous six games, turned the ball over four times in the first five minutes of action. The Hornets were able to build a quick 12-4 lead during that time.
Lin ended the first quarter with just two points and five turnovers.
New Orleans pulled ahead 27-13 after the first quarter by shooting 56 percent from the field while holding New York (15-16) to a season-low 29 percent shooting.
Lin eventually found his shooting touch, pulled the Knicks within two points and finished the game with 26 points. But the Hornets never relinquished the lead and kept the pressure on the young point guard, forcing him to turn the ball over a season-high nine times.
The win was a season’s best third-straight victory for the Hornets.
It’s easy to see that the Hornets have finally started to gel as a team. The team’s newer players like rookie power forward Gustavo Ayon and point guard Greivis Vasquez look more comfortable in Hornets head coach Monty Williams’ system and have boosted their production as of late.
After recording his first career double-double Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks with a 12-point, 12-rebound performance, Ayon earned his second career double-double against the Knicks by scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Vasquez has averaged 8.2 assists per game during the month of February after averaging less than 4.0 assists per game during the previous months.
Vasquez is not the only Hornet who is distributing the ball as of late. As a team, New Orleans has moved the ball well around the court and has made extra passes to find open shooters.
New Orleans has averaged 22 assists per game during the team’s three-game winning streak, and the Hornets finished Friday’s game with assists on 23 of its 32 made baskets.
New Orleans will need to continue playing at a high level if it hopes to dethrone the current leaders of the Western Conference when the Hornets travel to Oklahoma City Monday to play the Thunder.
About the Author
Written by Jarred LeBlanc
A New Orleans native who was a sports writer for the Daily Reveille from 2008 through 2010.