The New York Knicks were 8-15 and had lost 11 of 13 entering play on Feb. 4. Many believed Mike D'Antoni's job was on the line before that night's game against the New Jersey Nets. Because of a pending contract deadline, the coach decided to insert Jeremy Lin with three minutes to go in the first quarter, and it changed everything.
New York reeled off seven straight wins, providing D'Antoni with a modicum of job security and breathing new life into a season that started with high expectations.
But Linsanity didn't mask everything for these Knicks. They were handcuffed by poor point guard play before Lin's arrival, they've struggled to knock down shots throughout the season and Amare Stoudemire is in the midst of the worst year of his career.
With all of that in mind, here are our first-half grades for the Knicks.
Knicks' midseason awards
MVP: Lin. He is the first player since the NBA-ABA merger to average at least 20 points and eight assists in his first 10 starts. He led the Knicks to seven straight wins.
Defensive MVP: Chandler. He has been the key to the Knicks' improvement from 21st to sixth in defensive efficiency.
Biggest surprise: Lin. Emerged from the end of the bench to lead the Knicks to a 9-3 mark since he started playing significant minutes.
Biggest disappointment: Stoudemire. STAT's averaging 17 points and shooting just 44 percent from the floor -- career lows and a sharp drop-off from the MVP-type numbers he put up last year.
Best coaching move: Turning to Lin on Feb. 4 against the Nets after he hadn't shown much the night before against the Boston Celtics. Without that move, Linsanity never happens.
Worst coaching move: Stoudemire's lack of participation in the pick-and-roll game and the decision to allow Carmelo Anthony to play point forward.
Best offseason acquisition: Chandler (Lin was signed in-season). Chandler has scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds per game -- as good as advertised.
Worst offseason acquisition: Bibby. When they signed him, the Knicks hoped Bibby could contribute significant minutes at point guard. That never materialized. The 33-year-old is now stuck on the end of the bench.
Biggest concern: Will Anthony hurt the offensive cohesion established by Lin? The offense under Lin was predicated on ball movement; Anthony thrives in isolation.
Key to the second half: D'Antoni's ability to integrate Anthony, Davis and Smith into the offense that Lin had established during the Knicks' seven-game winning streak.