TORONTO — Linsane!
Jeremy Lin made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with less than a second to play to cap his finishing flurry of six straight points, and the New York Knicks rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors 90-87 Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to six games.
The NBA’s first American-Taiwanese player, Lin had 27 points and a career-high 11 assists in his first game since being named Eastern Conference player of the week.
The season-high crowd of 20,092 roared as Lin drained a pull-up jumper from the top with half a second to play, giving the Knicks their first lead since the opening quarter.
Toronto’s Rasual Butler airballed his attempt at the buzzer as the Knicks swarmed their newest hero at center court.
Amare Stoudemire returned from a four-game absence with 21 points and Tyson Chandler had 13 for New York.
Jose Calderon scored 25 points, Linas Kleiza had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan scored 14 for the Raptors.
Up 75-66 to start the fourth, Toronto widened its lead with a three-point play by Barbosa before the Knicks stormed back with a 10-0 run, cutting it to 78-76 and forcing the Raptors to call timeout with 6:22 remaining.
Kleiza stopped the run with a driving layup, Amir Johnson added a hook shot and, after Lin made one of two from the line, Barbosa’s layup made it 84-77 with 4:49 to go.
Toronto led 87-82 with less than two minutes to go when Iman Shumpert stole the ball from Calderon and drove in for an uncontested dunk. After a missed shot, Lin completed a three-point play, tying it at 87 with 1:05 left.
Barbosa missed a 3 for Toronto and, at the other end, Shumpert missed a jumper but Chandler grabbed the rebound. Lin took the ball near midcourt and let the clock run down to 5 seconds before driving and pulling up against Calderon to launch the decisive shot, touching off the latest instance of Linsanity.
The Raptors had a photo of Lin on their team website in the hours before the game, and his visit generated major interest among Toronto’s Asian community, estimated at over 280,000 people, or more than 11 percent of the local population. The Chinese Canadian Youth Athletics Association and the Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto both sent groups of almost 300 fans as Toronto sold out for the second time in 13 home games. One group of fans in the upper deck wore white T-shirts spelling out his name.
Not all the fans were so positive: Lin was booed several times throughout the game.
Local media also took note; some 75 reporters and 16 cameras packed a Tuesday morning press conference to hear Lin speak, with dozens more turned away to prevent overcrowding. More than 25 Chinese Canadian journalists were due to cover the game, including one who presented Lin with a book of “Year of the Dragon” stamps from Canada Post and asked him to record a message in Mandarin, which he did.
Even Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was shocked by the size of the throng upon walking in for his turn at the microphone.
“Are we in the playoffs now?” D’Antoni joked as he made his way to the front of the room.
It was Calderon, coming off a career-high 30 points in Sunday’s loss to the Lakers, who was hot early, scoring 12 points in the first as the Raptors led 28-21 after one. Lin missed his first shot and didn’t score until a driving layup with 3:46 left in the first. He had four points and four assists in the opening quarter.
Lin turned the ball over on three straight possessions early in the second and Toronto took advantage with a 6-0 run, widening its lead to 13 points. He also missed a running bank shot as the half ended as the Raptors took a 47-36 lead into the break.
Stoudemire scored seven points and Lin had six points and four assists as the Knicks scored 30 points in the third, but still trailed 75-66 heading into the fourth.