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Friday, February 17, 2012
Updated: February 18, 10:05 AM ET
Linferior first quarter dooms Knicks

By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

ESPN statement on mobile website headline. Read below

In the first quarter on Friday night, things were Linsane for Jeremy Lin -- but for all the wrong reasons.

He had five turnovers and his team missed 12 of 17 shots, and the New York Knicks finished the quarter trailing lowly New Orleans by 14 points.

"He was trying to make the hardest pass out there, he was trying to make the home run pass," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Lin finished the night with nine turnovers, one of many reasons the Knicks fell to the Hornets 89-85 at Madison Square Garden.

The loss snapped New York's season-high seven-game winning streak, which started when Lin first received extended playing time.

"Everyone wants to credit me for the last seven games, then I definitely deserve this one on my shoulders," Lin said.

"So that's fine with me."

Lin's nine turnovers left him with a record he'd rather not have: the most turnovers (45) for a player in his first seven starts since 1977-78, when the league started keeping individual stats.

"It was just a lackluster effort on my part, coming out and [being] careless with the ball," said Lin, who finished with 26 points (8-for-18 shooting) and five assists. "Nine turnovers is obviously never going to get it done from your primary ball handler."

It didn't help that the Knicks struggled from the perimeter (4-for-24 from beyond the arc), allowing New Orleans to keep its defense packed inside against Lin's penetration.

Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin "was trying to make the home run pass," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.

"They were long and they defended well," D'Antoni said.

Lin adjusted in the second half, rallying the Knicks with 16 points, two steals and just one turnover. His two free throws with 1:06 to play cut the Hornets' lead to 82-80. But the Knicks (15-16) missed three of their last four shots to seal New Orleans' seventh victory of the season.

Interestingly, Lin found a silver lining in the first loss of the Linsanity Era.

"It may help me, it may help the team a little bit in terms of just having everything off the court cool down," Lin said.

He admitted earlier in the day that all of the attention has become "mentally and emotionally taxing."

There were around 50 media members at the Knicks' Friday shootaround to talk to Lin. A similar media crush awaited Lin in his postgame press conference.

And one loss isn't likely to stop the Linsanity. Especially with Carmelo Anthony likely to return on Sunday and J.R. Smith's Knicks debut around the corner.

Some wonder how Smith and Anthony will mesh with Lin. But the second-year guard said he's looking forward to playing with the former Nuggets. And he's confident he can limit his turnovers by playing like he did in the fourth quarter Friday (eight points, zero turnovers).

In fact, everyone in the Knicks' locker room remains confident in Lin. One loss certainly wasn't going to change that.

"I think he's fine," D'Antoni said. "I don't think he expected to go undefeated this year."

Regarding a Feb. 18 headline on its mobile website, ESPN issued the following statement: "Last night, ESPN.com's mobile website posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 a.m. ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 a.m. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake."