Sunday, February 5, 2012
D'Antoni: 'Jeffries played his best game'
By Jared Zwerling
NEW YORK -- Backup point guard Jeremy Lin not only stole Knicks and NBA headlines around the world, but he still is one of the top trending topics on Twitter.
But you can't overlook the performance of Lin's fellow sub Jared Jeffries Saturday night against the Nets, which Mike D'Antoni called "his best game this year."
"I thought he played great defensively," he said. "The opportunities he gave us to win was crucial."
The Knicks entered Saturday averaging 24.8 bench points per game, the third-worst mark in the league. While Lin had 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds, Jeffries had a near double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Led by their production, including Bill Walker who scored seven points in only 15 minutes, the Knicks' second unit poured in 46 points -- their third-highest total in a game this season. Their most is 51, which they set on Jan. 24 in a 111-78 blowout win over the Bobcats.
"We needed that. We haven't seen that in a while and hopefully we can keep that going," Carmelo Anthony said. "As a unit, as a whole, I think we played great, especially after that first quarter, giving up 30 points. We buckled down, we settled down. We just locked in, we focused in. We played some hell of a defense out there tonight."
The Knicks' bench woes this season have triggered talk about signing unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith, who's just wrapping up his tenure in China. Now it's being reported that the Clippers, who are right behind the Knicks in bench points per game (24.5), are interested in Smith, who tweeted this back-to-back on Feb. 3: "How many people does the Garden seat?" and then "How many people does Staples seat?"
But last night, Smith wasn't needed. Lin and Jeffries made things happen; Lin with his passing, playmaking and getting into the paint, and Jeffries with his rebounding, defensive rotations and finishing at the rim.
"[Jared] had some pep in his step tonight," Melo said, smiling. "I told him at halftime, 'Man, don't do nothing different. When you come in here, keep your shoes on, keep your uniform on and do everything the same.' We loved his energy out there tonight. I don't know if it was the fresh legs. I don't know. Even in shootaround, he had like a different swagger about him today, and it showed out there on the court."