Originally Published: February 7, 2012

1. Knicks Still Smoking With Lin Leading Way

By Kyle Weidie
TrueHoop Network

WASHINGTON -- By the time he got to his postgame news conference, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman had already gotten flak from a family member about the way his team defended New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. His son, Ryan, had played basketball at Cornell and squared off against Lin when the Knicks' point guard was at Harvard.

"He told me that they did a much better job of guarding him than we did tonight," Wittman said after a 107-93 loss to New York. "I already had that text message before the game was over. Makes Dad feel good."

By the time the media Q&A was over, Wittman had enough Linsanity.

"I don't know how you want me to answer … Lin," he said in response to a question about John Wall's defense. "Lin played a fine game, and that's all I have to say about that."

Exit stage left.

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With Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire unavailable again, Lin chewed up the Wizards' defense with 23 points and 10 assists to lead the Knicks to a third straight victory. With shooters (Steve Novak, 5-for-9 on 3-pointers) and the impeccable screening of Tyson Chandler, a combination of which Wall seemed envious, Lin ran Mike D'Antoni's system to perfection.

"If you run enough of them, you'll find something," Lin said of the Knicks' high-screening action. "We put them through, at least, maybe 100 pick-and-rolls. They changed coverages, and we just kept attacking."

That brought trips to the free-throw line. New York had 14 more attempts than Washington, and it's probably no coincidence that Chandler went 11-for-14 from the stripe.

The departed Flip Saunders used to call his Wizards team fragile, so it's not surprising that a short-handed New York squad could be the aggressor on Washington's home court. Throngs of Knicks fans in transient D.C. combined with mass interest in Lin from the local Asian community probably didn't help the Wizards' cause.

"When you play against certain teams, you already know the crowd is against us sometimes. So we just go out there and play," said Wall, the No. 1 selection in the draft in which Lin was overlooked by every team. "You make it a game, the crowd gets on your side."

But Wall's Wizards didn't do that, the team too dysfunctional to compete with its unfriendly home confines, a breakout star and more coachable players. Wittman often likens the bad basketball habits of his players to those of nicotine addicts, so the Wizards will continue to puff away.

"I'm not really too worried about proving anything to anybody right now," Lin said when asked how he felt being called "for real" by his coach.

He shouldn't, especially not while he's smoking.

Kyle Weidie covers the Wizards for Truth About It, part of the TrueHoop Network.

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