DALLAS – Linsanity gained lot of believers the last time the Knicks faced the Mavericks.
There has only been one point guard to really light up the Mavs since Shawn Marion became the primary defender of that position. That was Lin, who had 28 points and 14 assists to lead the Knicks to a win over the defending champions in a nationally televised Sunday afternoon matinee at Madison Square Garden last month.
Tyson Chandler laughed after the game when he recalled how his former Mavericks teammates told him they had a plan to shut down Lin, the sudden phenom.
“I guess they were dead wrong in the scouting report,” Chandler said.
Or maybe Marion just had dead legs, which he admitted was a major issue the next week.
We also might not see the Lin-Matrix matchup nearly as much this game. Rodrigue Beaubois, who was on a personal leave during the Mavs’ trip to New York, will take his turns guarding his former summer league teammate. And Carmelo Anthony is back for the Knicks, so Marion might spend most of the night defending the perennial All-Star small forward.
“That's my guess,” Lin said of the Melo assignment for Marion. “We’ll just be ready for whatever they throw out at us. I think he’s a great defender. I actually didn’t think he did a bad job. He forced me into a lot of tough shots. I know he got some fouls and a lot of times he was attacking the pick, it wasn’t necessarily him. Whatever they throw at us we have to be ready for.”
The Mavs better be more ready for Lin than they were last month.
Records: Mavs (22-17); Knicks (18-19)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: FSSW/NBA TV
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs, losers of five of their last six games, desperately need a win but might not have much gas in their tank after last night’s down-to-the-wire loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki played 38 minutes, Jason Terry 37 and Marion 36. Will they have enough life in their legs to finish strong if this game goes down to the wire? And can the Mavs figure out how to execute down the stretch even if the energy is there? They haven’t been good in clutch situations all season and have been awful lately, a reversal of the trend during their title run.
Key matchup: Mavs bench vs. Knicks bench – Dallas prides itself in being one of the deepest teams in the league, but the Knicks bench destroyed the Mavs bench last month at Madison Square Garden. Steve Novak lit it up for 14 points in 23 minutes. J.R. Smith had 15 points in his Knicks debut. Lamar Odom was especially dreadful for the Mavs, who were outscored by 17 in Odom’s 20 minutes. The Mavs’ bench is shorter than usual because of injuries, but there’s no reason the Knicks' reserves should be a dominant force.
Injuries: Mavs – C Brendan Haywood (sprained left ankle) is questionable; G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; C/PF Brandan Wright (concussion) is out. Knicks – G/F Bill Walker (elbow) is out.
Up next: Mavs at Phoenix Suns, 9:30 p.m., Thursday