Court Vision: Lin beats the Knicks and TBJ wins the holidays
By Ben Golliver
• The Basketball Jones wins the holiday season with a collection of basketball-themed Christmas carols in a mock television advertisement format. Another masterpiece to add to their Greatest Hits collection.
• In the same holiday-spirit vein, Dan Grunfeld with a mesmerizing rundown of the best 1990s jerseys to buy for the holidays.
• Paul Flannery of SB Nation reports from Jeremy Lin vs. the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, where the Rockets wound up as blowout winners on Monday.
“It will always have a special place no matter how long I play because that was the beginning for me and anytime you have a stretch like that you’ll remember it forever,” Lin said. “The easy part of me is just to make sure I don’t try to live up to that. As long as I do that I’m not really worried too much about anything else. I don’t think anyone from the Rockets organization is expecting me to recreate anything and I’m not either.”
After the game, someone asked if his performance reminded him of last season.
“Not really,” Lin said. “I’m in a very different place now. My mindset is very different as well. I’ve moved on. They’ve moved on. We have good memories but at the same time we’re all in a different place now.”
• Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports with more Lin post-victory reaction.
“That was awesome,” Lin beamed to a Houston Rockets official awaiting him. “That was so much fun.”
“I am glad this is over,” Lin told Yahoo! Sports late Monday night. “This is a little bit of closure.”
He had left behind the interview podium, the locker room and stood in an empty Garden. Finally, he smiled and allowed, “But I did have fun playing them.”
• Neil Paine writes at ESPN Insider that Raymond Felton is a better fit for the Knicks than Lin, even if the Rockets’ guard got the better of him on Monday.
That’s why, paradoxically enough, Felton’s inability to carry the Knicks on occasions like Monday night makes him a more ideal point guard for this New York team than Lin could ever have been. Unlike Lin, Felton is much more of a shooter and less of an isolation scorer, which better complements Anthony’s iso-heavy offensive game. It’s no coincidence that Felton and Jason Kidd (once a Lin-esque ball-dominator, now an even more extreme spot-up guard than Felton) have combined with Anthony to form two of New York’s three most successful current player pairs by plus/minus.
• Seth with the Knicks’ perspective at Posting and Toasting.
Hello, this is Seth. I’m typing this sentence early in the fourth quarter. This game is over. It’ll be over for real by the time I finish this post, I bet, but it’s already over. Remember all those things the Knicks did poorly in their first game against the Rockets that we said they had to fix to take this re-match? They didn’t fix a single one of them.
• Paul McGuire at Rockets blog Red94 struck a different tone.
After his absolutely miserably performance yesterday against Toronto, Lin rebounded for his best game of the season. No, he didn’t score more points (though he had a splendid 22) and it wasn’t comparable to his past Linsanity stretches like that game against San Antonio was. But Linsanity was never going to be the prime focus of a good Houston team, especially after the James Harden deal. As I wrote yesterday, Lin, as the less talented player, would need to be the one who would need to learn to work with Harden rather than the other way around. And tonight, for perhaps the first game this year, Harden and Lin seemed to be comfortable working with one another, something which is a thousand times more important towards winning than Linsanity. The pair drove to the lane, collected fouls (including a flagrant 1 when Tyson Chandler inadvertently elbowed Lin in the face), and Harden made his jumpers. While Lin did not, he dished the ball off to one of Houston’s three point shooters or a bumbling Asik who stood next to the rim.
• Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that Rockets coach Kevin McHale liked what he saw.
“We keep on telling him to be aggressive and attack,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “Maybe he felt comfortable here in Madison Square Garden.
“He’s a great kid. He’s hard on himself at times. For him to have a great game here, I’m sure he feels pretty good right now. We all feel good for him.”
• Here at SI.com, Todd Jones tackles Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, the man and the myth.
• Heat forward Shane Battier has boasted bout his Jeopardy! skills, so TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz put him to the test. Battier got off to a slow start: He guessed that China, not Brazil, has the most practicing Catholics of any country in the world. He picks his game up from there.
• Holly MacKenzie of SportsNet.CA writes that Jose Calderon is handling recent trade rumors quite well.
If there is one word to describe Jose Calderon, it is professional. Through trade rumours, role reduction and being bounced in and out of the starting lineup, Calderon has been a rock for the Raptors. He’s steady and earnest, hardworking and relentlessly positive. While he is always going to give you his best every time he steps onto the floor, Calderon is just a different player when he’s starting.
Against the Rockets, he scored 18 points to go along with a team-high 10 rebounds and 14 assists without committing a single turnover. He made free throws down the stretch, grabbed long rebounds against a team who shoots a lot of three pointers and found his teammates time and time again with the perfect pass. Calderon was fantastic on Sunday and his teammates showed him their appreciation in the locker room by showering him with praise.
After the game, Calderon told the media that his goal is to be the most professional player in the NBA.
• The Thunder crushed the Spurs on Monday, turning what started out as an exciting game into a bit of a yawner. It was enough to make Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman wish she could time-travel forward.
But on Monday night with The Peake rocking and the Thunder humming and the Spurs visiting, it was fun to imagine these teams could meet again in the playoffs. Too bad the playoffs don’t even start until April 20. It’s going to be a long four months and two days.
• Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie compiles the recent reporting and analysis concerning Nets guard Deron Williams and his comments that he hasn’t been as comfortable in coach Avery Johnson’s offense as he was under former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. One factor brought up: Williams’ injured wrist and its impact on his shooting percentages.
• Wade Boggs boogeying at a Thunder game? Wade Boggs boogeying at a Thunder game.
• Basketball Prospectus examines how important (if at all) it is to have good rebounders in your backcourt.
• Pacers center Roy Hibbert tells the world that he is “besties” with comedian Chelsea Peretti.
• Quickish.com put together a list of 2012′s best sportswriting pieces.