- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Knicks have been the definition of futility for the last decade.
But the franchise has enjoyed a rebirth with the emergence of "Linsanity."
"When you haven't won a playoff series in 10 years, they've been starving for this," Nets coach Avery Johnson said when asked about Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
"Linsanity" was born on Feb. 4 against Johnson's Nets. An unknown then, Lin came off the bench, exploited the Nets in the pick-and-roll and went for 25 points and seven assists. He has started every game since, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 mark as a starter.
Don't compare Lin to Steve Nash -- another Mike D'Antoni point guard -- just yet, though.
"I've heard a lot of different stories. I even got a question from my daughter whether Lin was in Nash's category. We don't wanna go there. It’s only been nine games," Johnson said. "Give the kid a chance. It's a great global story and he's inspiring a lot of kids, but let's give the kid a chance to play a whole season, maybe even a playoff series before we put him in the Nash category."
The Nets are the first team to see Lin a second time. So is that an advantage?
"Last game [against Dallas] on ball screens they went big on him quite a bit with [Shawn] Marion, and that didn't slow him down that much," Johnson said. "So again, he's obviously seen switches, you've seen teams play him one-on-one and forcing him to score. So he's seen quite a few defenses. But hopefully it's an advantage for us since we've seen him so we know what we're dealing with."
And playing well in D'Antoni's system?
"Systems sometimes can be overrated. Let's give the kid credit," Johnson said. "Mike's had a pretty good system ever since he was in Phoenix, but your system works a lot better when he's playing the way he's playing. So let's give the kid some credit, but also let's give guys like [GM Donnie] Walsh credit who survived and turned this thing around bringing in Melo and Amare."
• As expected, center Brook Lopez is inactive. He seemed upset about it before the game, but Johnson said there was no chance he could talk his way into the lineup. The 23-year-old will play on Wednesday against Orlando. Shelden Williams will start in his place.
6dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann