Another Linstant Classic

Lin's three with 0.5 seconds to play caps Knicks comeback for sixth straight win

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012  |  Updated 12:59 PM EDT
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Rock Stars: Then and Now

AP

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin (17) celebrates with teammates Tyson Chandler and Landry Fields (2) after his game-winning 3-pointer.

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It would take a novella to describe the way that the hype has grown and grown for a player who came out of nowhere to lift his struggling team and who constantly finds new ways to leave your mouth agape.

So maybe we should just stick with Linsanity.

On Tuesday night -- Va - LIN - tine's Day, complete with a kiss -- Lin beat the Raptors with a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds in a game that the Knicks once trailed by as many as 17 and saw them behind by nine entering the fourth quarter.

They pulled it out 90-87, though, thanks to the latest exploit by a player who seems hell bent on making himself the biggest story in the entire sports world before he's through.

Even President Barack Obama is impressed.

Lin struggled mightily for the first three quarters against a Raptors defense that would not let him do any of the things he did to build his legend over the last five games. They doubled him relentlessly, refused to let him beat them with his right hand and made stopping the pick and roll their chief priority.

Mixed with Jose Calderon's hot shooting and a lackluster return to the lineup for Amar'e Stoudemire, it was enough to make it look like the end of the Knicks winning streak. As Lin kept turning the ball over, he finished with an unsightly eight on the night and you could almost hear the eulogies for his week of thrills being written by those hoping to find a flaw.

And then came the fourth quarter. Lin scored 12 points (it would have been more if not for haphazard free throw shooting), dragging the Knicks back into the game and providing himself with a chance to be the hero.

It was a chance he wouldn't pass up. First Lin tied the game with a traditional three-point play and then, with the Knicks holding for the final shot, Lin waited until the clock neared midnight and  launched a three that touched nothing but net.

The back page will be Lin's again, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Iman Shumpert's role in the victory. His defense on Calderon in the fourth quarter made a huge difference and the chemistry between the two guards on offense helped rouse the stagnant Knicks to another victory.

Shumpert's play was essential, as was Tyson Chandler's offensive rebound on the final set, but it will inevitably get lost in all the coverage of what has fast become one of the more fascinating stories in recent sports memory.

Lin, who finished with 29 points and 11 assists on what was far from his best night, has risen so far so fast that you need to continually remind yourself that it is for real.

We'd say that he can't possibly top this on Wednesday night at the Garden against the Kings, but it would seem to be just about time to stop guessing where this story goes next.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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