Melo returns but Knicks fail to find chemistry in loss to Nets
Deron Williams bounces back against Jeremy Lin, explodes for 38 points.
NEW YORK – Jeremy Lin flirted with a triple double but the New York Knicks struggled to find the right chemistry with the return of Carmelo Anthony, losing 100-92 to the New Jersey Nets on Monday.
“I need to come out with more energy and the team needs to come out with more energy. That is why we lost,” said Lin. “We are not in panic mode. We are going to have to work through some struggles but as long as we are all committed and buy in, we will be fine.”
It marked just the second loss since Lin’s amazing run began February 4 against the Nets when he blitzed New Jersey’s defence for 25 points.
The Knicks have eight wins and two losses since the NBA legend of Lin was born with that 99-92 win over the Nets.
Lin finished with a team-high 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as all five Knicks starters reached double figures in scoring in Monday’s loss.
“Jeremy still got 21 and nine and he still had a great game, a good game,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “Our energy wasn’t right the whole night. We got some sorting out to do.”
Lin’s incredible season began when the former benchwarmer was called up with two starters missing and answered with the most points of any NBA player in his first five starts since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976.
The fairy-tale rise of Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Taiwanese and Chinese heritage, is all the more remarkable considering he was cut by two clubs before joining the Knicks.
But the Knicks had no answer on Monday to Nets point guard Deron Williams who finished with a season-high 38 points.
Williams also scored a career-high eight three-pointers for the Nets who snapped a five-game losing streak to the Knicks.
Kris Humphries had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds for New Jersey.
The Knicks welcomed superstar Anthony back into the lineup from injury Monday but he struggled to find a role in their revamped offence.
Anthony shot just four-of-11 from the field and had 11 points, well below his season average of 22.3.
Anthony had missed the team’s last seven games with a groin strain and point guard Baron Davis also made his season debut against the Nets.
But D’Antoni refused to single out a player for blame, instead insisting the whole team was at fault for the loss.
“When a guy comes back others guys stand around and watch what he is doing,” D’Antoni said. “It was the whole team’s fault.
“Two or three guys were new in there and we weren’t rolling.”
Amare Stoudemire (17), Tyson Chandler (14) and Landry Fields (10) also reached double figures for the Knicks.
D’Antoni said they hope to use the upcoming All-Star break to better identify the role of each player on the team.
“We got some things to sort out and figure out what identity we have to have. We need to retool a little bit and see what we can do.”
Lin has been running the Knicks’ offence since Anthony got hurt. Lin believes the two will eventually find their roles under D’Antoni’s system.
“We both make plays and we need to find a good balance,” said Lin who makes $17 million a season less than Anthony.
“It is tough right now with no practice time and then you throw in J.R. Smith and Baron Davis. There will be an adjustment time and things to talk about.”
Lin said it is frustrating to beat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks one night then lose to a last-place team the next.
“This is definitely a gut check,” Lin said. “We have to look inside ourselves and come with the same energy and passion against teams with poorer records than the defending champions or the Los Angeles Lakers.”