By Zach Smart
The Knicks face a litmus test tonight against the Toronto Raptors, with the opportunity to rip off their fourth consecutive win under interim boss Mike Woodson.
Woodson has made an immediate impact piecing this talented extra-piecemeal club into a unit, which the reserved Mike D’Antoni could never seem to do before his untimely resignation.
The last time these two teams met, at Toronto, the Linsanity that stopped the earth from spinning on its axis was at it’s near-apex.
The man who prolonged D’Antoni’s job nailed a straight-away game-winning 3-pointer, adding sizzle to his already-growing overnight icon status.
The difference that game was rookie Iman Shumpert, the Georgia Tech product who incarcerated a hot-handed Jose Calderon in the final quarter. Shump got in his jersey, replacing it with a straightjacket as the Spanish Speedster tailed off.
Woodson is known to play rookies with caution, but Shump has established himself as a rigorous defender with a mean first step.
The Knicks have seized a 49-40 edge with 1:34 remaining until the half. These next two games will determine just how drastically they’ve changed from a defensively lacking unit possessed by the pinball, souped-up read-and-react offense that has made D’Antoni a guru who stole more money than Bernie Madoff in New York.
The Knicks play a Philadelphia Sixers team that’s rapidly evolved into the class of the Atlantic tomorrow night in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Lou Williams, whose become a fourth-quarter assassin, leads the squad with 15.8 points and 3.6 dimes per.
The Sixers coiled out of a recent 0-3 funk with a 105-80 thumping of the Bobcats. Few days after the New York tabloids declared a death to Linsanity, even rehydrating rumors that Baron Davis could supplant him as a starter, Lin’s success story has gained another page when he dropped 19 points and doled out six assists during a 102-88 drubbing of the Indiana Pacers.
The dream is not over. Lin said he believes in the All-Empowering God Who Works Miracles and the faith-first point guard is blessed with a nucleus of talent and depth now surrounding him.
Now, under a new system that will emphasize pounding the ball into card shop names Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, we shall see how this international story continues and how the Knicks fare under this new coach who, unlike D’Antoni, places emphasis on both sides of the ball.
Just Lin, baby, lin. Remember, this kid just got off the couch.